Accused heroin dealers face murder charges in overdose deaths

'If you're selling death to addicts, you can expect to be charged with murder'

Sergio Perez and Melanie Cunningham
Sergio Perez and Melanie Cunningham

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Two suspected drug dealers accused of selling fentanyl-laced heroin to users who later fatally overdosed were indicted Monday on first-degree murder charges, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Sergio Perez, 43, of Deltona, is being charged in connection with the overdose death of 34-year-old Joshua Lacy, and Melanie Cunningham, 27, of Deltona, is being charged in connection with 51-year-old Heather McCurdy's death.

“As promised, if you’re a drug dealer handing out poison to your customers in Volusia County, we’re not just coming after you with a drug charge or two,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “If you’re selling death to addicts, you can expect to be charged with murder.”

In both instances, deputies said the victims had evidence on their cellphones that helped investigators identify the accused drug dealers.

Lacy was found dead in his bedroom on April 13, 2018, as a result of heroin toxicity. McCurdy died of fentanyl toxicity about 16 minutes after she bought heroin from Cunningham, the report said.

Perez and Cunningham have both been behind bars since October, when they were arrested as part of a seven-month operation to dismantle a heroin trafficking ring in the Volusia County area, according to authorities.

They are the third and fourth accused drug dealers to be charged with murder in connection with an overdose death in Volusia County.

“Every drug overdose death in Volusia County is going to be investigated as a homicide, and every dealer responsible is going to receive the full attention of our deputies and detectives,” Chitwood said. “The victims in these cases are not just the addicts – they’re the families, and sometimes the young children, who are left behind. I want to thank our detectives, the State Attorney’s Office and the members of the grand jury for all their work in helping remove these merchants of death from our streets.”

The office of State Attorney R.J. Larizza will prosecute the cases against Perez and Cunningham.

“We at the Seventh Circuit State Attorney’s Office are proud to be a part of the tri-agency partnership with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Attorney General’s Office in making our communities better and safer for our families, friends, and neighbors,” Larizza said.

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