In a recent sting, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd connected the deaths of eight people to 17 people suspected of trafficking heroin.
To make matters worse, the heroin was mixed with fentanyl, making the drugs an especially deadly mixture.
“We suspect when our investigation is complete that we’ll be able to tie the deaths of all eight directly to these folks, and we’ll be charging them appropriately,” Judd said in a The Ledger.
Judd says officers have noticed an increase in heroin use—and specifically heroin laced with fentanyl.
Police cracking down on drugs is nothing new, but the sheriff’s office has made drug busts like this a priority. Law enforcement does not take these cases lightly, and of the 17 people arrested in this case, seven were charged with trafficking. They face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.
Could dealers be responsible for overdose deaths?
In the story, Judd references holding the parties responsible for overdose death. This raises the possibility of more severe charges for those arrested in these crimes. While penalties for drug crimes can be harsh, and often carry mandatory minimum sentences, the potential for being held responsible for a death could make charges even more severe.
In addition to this case, the Florida House of Representatives recently unanimously passed a bill that could lead to murder or manslaughter charges for drug dealers in overdoes cases.
It will be interesting to continue monitoring cases like this and possible changes to drug laws.