Prosecutors are charging drug dealers who sell the powerful opioid fentanyl with murder in instances where their drug can be linked back to a customer’s death. One line from a recent Sun-Sentinel article sums up the case against drug dealers:
Prosecutors contend the dealers not only stuffed their pockets from selling the usually lethal and cheap synthetic pills, but intentionally killed buyers at the same time.
According to prosecutors, and the article appears to echo their sentiment, the doses are “usually” fatal and drug dealers are “intentionally” killing their customers at the same time. Lawmakers recently moved to make fentanyl a murder weapon along the same lines as guns and knives. The question then becomes: Do prosecutors have to connect a specific batch of fentanyl to a specific death in order to charge someone accused of fentanyl distribution with murder?
Accused Fentanyl Dealer Charged with First-Degree Murder
Last year, Calvin Warren Jr. became the first man in Florida charged under the new legislation. According to prosecutors, Warren sold Thomas Matuseski the drugs that ultimately led to his death. After Matuseski overdosed from heroin, police combed through his phone records and found that he had contact Warren several times. Police claim that they obtained a warrant for the phone records after finding a used syringe with heroin residue in Matuseski’s pocket.
Upon testing the syringe, lab tests indicated that the heroin had been cut with fentanyl. However, other than phone records linking Warren to Matuseski, police have not brought forth any other evidence of Warren’s guilt.
Fentanyl is Cheaper Because it’s Easier to Move
When health officials and law enforcement say that a drug like fentanyl is fifty times cheaper than something like heroin, they mean that it takes a fiftieth of the amount of fentanyl to achieve the same high. On the trafficking end, it is much cheaper to move fentanyl because you only need one-fiftieth of the same amount to achieve the same number of doses.
According to lawmakers, much of the fentanyl coming into the U.S. is made in China and then smuggled by drug cartels into the United States. Florida, of course, is one of the major ports of entry for fentanyl as it has always been a major spot to traffic drugs.
Should Drug Trafficking Result in the Death Penalty?
Since drug dealers are being charged with the death of their clients, these cases move from being simple drug trafficking charges to first-degree murder charges. With them, carries the threat of the death penalty.
To date, there are three individuals charged under the new legislation and prosecutors are considering charges against two more. Since no charges have resulted in convictions yet, the legality of the law is still in question. In other words, it’s possible that the law will not hold under constitutional protections.
Key questions include the intentionality of murdering someone with a defective drug product and whether or not that rises to the standard of premeditation.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you’re charged with a drug crime, the West Palm Beach drug crime attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. can help you raise a defense to the charges. Our job is to ensure that the prosecution proves every element of your case beyond a reasonable doubt. Talk to us today and let us protect your rights.