Since opioid addiction and overdoses are at an all-time high, some law enforcement departments and prosecutors are taken a stricter stance on not only drug dealers, but also those involved in overdose deaths.
After discovering drug overdose victims in the past, officials would rarely continue the investigation.
But detectives in Hamilton County, Ohio are continuing to investigate these deaths by interviewing relatives, witnesses, and others involved to see if anyone is accountable for the overdose.
Last year, Daniel Eckhardt’s lifeless body was discovered and the local authorities have continued the investigation, which has led to a series of prosecutions.
“Detectives interrogated witnesses and obtained search warrants in an effort to hold someone accountable for Mr. Eckhardt’s death. The prosecutor for Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati and its suburbs, charged three of Mr. Eckhardt’s companions, including his ex-wife and her boyfriend, with crimes including involuntary manslaughter, an offense carrying a maximum prison sentence of 11 years,” writes the Wall Street Journal.
The three individuals charged were deemed partly responsible for Eckhardt’s death because they bought and used the drug with him.
In Hamilton County, the overdose death rate has almost more than tripled from 2006 and 2016. The county has a newly created heroin task force to look closely at the overdose cases and charge those who were at least partially responsible.
But this move to expand investigations isn’t only happening in Ohio.
In Maryland, a drug dealer was charged with manslaughter after one of his clients was found dead.
“It takes two to tango,” said the victim’s mother “It takes two, and the victim has paid the ultimate price with their life. So it’s fair that the other person should be charged.”
Maryland prosecutors are coming after dealers.
“They’re dealing in death,” said Charles County State’s Attorney Tony Covington. “It’s our job to hold them accountable.”
Since 2014, 21 people in Maryland have been charged with manslaughter in overdose cases.
“The drug dealers have to pay the consequences,” said St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Richard Fritz. “For $50, they do not mind killing our children, our wives, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters. This has got to stop.”
A man in Wilmington, NC was sentenced to 3-6 years in prison after his girlfriend died of an overdose from Heroin.
“If you inject another person with an opiate and they die from this, the law holds you responsible for their death. The fact that you also consumed the substance yourself does not absolve you of this: there is no doubt you are criminally responsible. Our office remains committed to use every tool in our tool box to save our community from the ravages of opiates and will prosecute those who contribute to the demise of others,” said Assistant District Attorney Timothy Severo.
Stricter prosecutions are part of a national movement and will hopefully help to get the opioid epidemic under control. This has evidently led to more arrests.
“At least 86 people nationwide received federal prison sentences last year for distributing drugs resulting in death or serious injury, up 16% from 2012, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a federal agency that determines sentencing guidelines for judges. An analysis of news reports found 1,200 mentions nationally about drug-death prosecutions in 2016, three times the number in 2011, according to a recent report by the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group that supports decriminalizing drug use,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “But in courtrooms around the country, prosecutors are also sweeping up low-level dealers who are addicts trying to support their habit, as well as friends and family members of overdose victims who bought or shared drugs with the deceased. Some critics of the prosecution tactic say these users need treatment, not harsh prison sentences.”
The stricter penalties have also caused smaller dealers to give information to the police about the big suppliers where they are getting the drugs from.
“When someone is looking at 20 years to life, they’re gonna tell you whatever they know to save themselves,” said Kerry B. Harvey, a former U.S. attorney in Kentucky, who made prosecuting drug-deaths from 2010 to 2017 a priority.
In the last year, 64,000 people died due to overdoses from these types of drugs. This is an 86% in the national death rate from 2006.
Author’s note: We would go as far to say that the death penalty should be considered for anyone who pushes illegal drugs to children. This looks like law enforcement and state legal systems are moving in that direction.
Editor’s note: This is a slippery slope I am looking forward to. Remember, behavior is contagious. You should do everything in your power to keep your children away from others doing drugs.