The sale and use of illicit drugs have been on the increase in the United States.
The authorities, nonetheless, are working hard to contain this problem.
In a recent case in Iowa, three men received prison sentences for distributing opioids that led to the deaths of three people.
The court sentenced Jervonie Murphy, a 26-year-old from Dubuque to two years and nine months in prison.
On the same day, 28-year-old Jay Rickert from Michigan received a sentence of one year and six months. The court, however, gave a life sentence to another man from Dubuque, 47-year-old Richard Leroy Parker.
Drug Task Force Sets up First Suspect
Murphy’s arrest took place after a set-up by the Dubuque Drug Task Force. The drug dealer sold heroin twice to the force, once within 1,000 feet of two playfields and the second time within 1,000 feet of an elementary school.
Following this sale, the police obtained a search warrant for his home. They found crack and powder cocaine, marijuana, fentanyl and heroin.
The court charged Murphy of heroin distribution near a school or playground, to which he pleaded guilty.
Murphy further acknowledged that in the last three years, he had sold more than 80 grams of heroin. It was one time, however, that he caused the death of a user.
On July 18, 2016, Murphy supplied heroin to a female buyer. This woman shared the drug with another woman, who fell unconscious.
On July 20, the woman died. Based on her autopsy, she had died of a toxic mixture of heroin and methamphetamine.
The Wrong Drug Causes User’s Death
Rickert’s case involved the unintentional delivery of the wrong drug to the user. He admitted to having ordered DMT, an illicit hallucinogen, on the dark web.
He was buying the drugs for his friend from Dubuque. The seller, nonetheless, sent fentanyl in place of DMT.
Rickert’s friend received the drugs directly from the dark web seller, along with a guide on how she should safely use them.
Rickert ensured that the delivery included a specific digital scale for the drug.
Seeing that the two drugs look the same, she did not notice that she had the wrong one. The woman died after taking the substance.
While she was using the drug, the woman was talking to Rickert on Skype. Hence, when he noticed that she had fallen, Rickert called 911 to report the case.
Her autopsy indicated that an overdose of fentanyl led to her death.
The court charged Rickert with willingly causing the supply of a controlled drug, to which he pleaded guilty earlier this year. Nonetheless, the man had a clean criminal record before this crime.
In addition to his prison sentence, Rickert will have three years of supervised release and pay restitution not exceeding $13,000.
Parker’s sentence was far much more severe than those of the first two. From the evidence of his case, in April 2017, Parker purchased a few grams of heroin while in Chicago.
On Easter Sunday, he brought the drugs to a house at Rhomberg Avenue in Dubuque.
That day, Parker took crack cocaine along with alcohol with his friends at the house. At night, he gave one woman the heroin dose.
As soon as the woman consumed the heroin, she stopped breathing.
Parker admitted that emergency responders attempted to resuscitate the victim but failed.
While they were working on her, he went into a different room to hide the rest of the heroin. Investigators found the drugs in a chair inside the house as Parker had reported.
The jury’s verdict was that Parker was guilty of the supply of heroin close to a school or playground, which resulted in death.
The jury also found him guilty of the possession of heroin with the intention to sell it close to a school or playground. The judge, thus, sentenced Parker to life imprisonment.
Before this case, Parker had several other convictions. He had four drug-related convictions, three of which involved illegal distribution.
His previous sentence had ended in April 2017 after having served almost 10 years for burglary.
Opioids at the Forefront of Law Enforcement’s Priorities
After the sentencing, the U.S. Marshal’s Service held the three men as they awaited transfer to one of the federal prisons at Cedar Rapids. The men are not subject to parole.
In a press release issued by the Department of Justice, Northern Iowa U.S. District Attorney Pete Deegan stated that the drugs currently available on the streets and online are potentially deadly and the authorities are working towards bringing the suppliers to justice.
According to a document from the Drug Enforcement Administration, some of the most dangerous drugs include carfentanil, fentanyl and heroin. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 times stronger than heroin.
However, carfentanil beats the rest of the drugs as it is 100 times deadlier than fentanyl, its analogue.
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