On September 11, 2020, at about 11:50 pm, the Watertown Police Department and Watertown Fire Rescue responded to the 700 block of East Kemp Avenue in Watertown for a 24-year-old male unconscious and not breathing. The 24-year old (identified as Tyler Mertz) male was transported to Prairie Lakes Hospital, where he later was declared deceased. An autopsy was subsequently performed, and the cause of death was determined to be fentanyl overdose. After an in-depth investigation by the Watertown Police Department and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, 25-year-old Ricardo “Ricky” Ortiz was arrested and charged with SDCL 22-42-2 distributing a controlled substance (fentanyl) to Mertz, which caused his death.
A charge of distribution of a controlled substance is a Class 4 felony; however, any person who, for consideration, intentionally distributes any controlled substance or counterfeit substance in violation of this section and another person dies as a direct result of using that substance, the sentence for the principal felony shall be enhanced by increasing the class of the principal felony two levels. The enhancement may not exceed the sentence for a Class C felony.
At the time of Ortiz’s arrest, he was on parole for a prior conviction of distribution of a controlled substance.