A special drug task force has arrested a Northwest man accused of selling heroin to a high school student who overdosed on the drug and died in March.
On Dec. 29, police arrested Travis S. Eisenegger on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and unlawful sale of a narcotic drug in connection with the death of 17-year-old Evan Cueto. Cueto died of a drug overdose in his Northwest home on March 18, 2009.
Investigators with the Pima County Attorney's Office said the crimes Eisenegger is suspected of committing meet the burden for a felony murder charge.
"There was a death that resulted during the course of or commission of a felony," said Susan Eazer, with the Pima County Attorney's Office.
Eazer said law enforcement officials think Eisenegger had targeted high school students for heroin sales.
Between August 2008 and March 2009, three Northwest teens, including Cueto, died of drug overdoses. Police officials hinted that more arrests and charges are possible.
"Detectives in CNA (counter narcotics alliance) are still looking into those other overdose deaths," Tucson Police Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said. The CNA is comprised of officers from regional law enforcement agencies.
On Dec. 29, police also arrested Robert L. Looney, who was charged with conspiracy to possess a narcotic drug for sale. Oro Valley Police said Looney is the brother of Charles Looney, the 17-year-old Canyon Del Oro High School student who died of a methadone overdose in August.
Days before Looney's death, 18-year-old Dylan Lujan, a former CDO student, also died from an overdose.
Pacheco described Eisenegger as a small-time heroin supplier and user. He said drug use and sales at Eisenegger's house prompted further investigations.
Police have tied at least two other overdoses to Eisenegger's home. On April 20, 2009, a drug user overdosed after purchasing heroin at Eisenegger's home. The overdose victim survived.
Then, on Oct. 22, 2009, a third man survived an overdosed while at Eisenegger's home.
The Northwest has, in recent years, seen an increase in the amount of heroin-related arrests and drug confiscations.
In September, Oro Valley police arrested two men suspected of selling heroin. Officers confiscated from the men two handguns and 100 grams of the drug with a street value of more than $6,000.
In 2009, members of the Oro Valley Police Department Community Action Team took more than 285 grams of heroin off the streets, a significant increase in the volume of the drug officers had encountered in previous years.
In 2007, Oro Valley officers confiscated 27 grams of heroin from users and dealers. By 2008, officers seized 97 grams of heroin.
Oro Valley Police Sgt. Mike McBride said demand for the drug and increased policing accounted for the increase number of seizures.
"We've developed more sources of information on where the kids are buying from," McBride said.
Until recently, McBride headed up the CAT squad. He's now moved to a different assignment.
Like Tucson police, McBride described Eisenegger as part of a scene of heroin users who support their drug habits through small-time sales. The majority of users Oro Valley police encounter are young.
"I would say 90 percent of the people we arrested were under the age of 23," he said.
McBride said parents should look for warning signs among teens that could indicate teen drug use. Those include a dramatic change in child's behavior, hanging out with different kids, frequent unexplained sicknesses, lethargy and noticing items missing from the house.
Eazer, with the Pima County Attorney's Office, said Eisenegger and Looney would be officially indicted sometime this week.