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Recently, we have seen headlines across the United States implicating local drug dealers for their part in drug overdoses. In various states, small time drug dealers are catching a murder charge for selling people the drugs that would eventually cause their overdose. Is this fair? “…from 2011 to 2016, the number of news stories about people charged with or prosecuted for drug-induced homicides increased from 363 to 1,178 — more than a 300 percent increase that corresponds with the rise of opioid-related deaths…” (Collins).
Today we’re going to explore a few cases that led to second-degree murder charges for small time dealers.
Bruck Fekadu, North Carolina
Yesterday, Bruck Fekadu, a small time fentanyl street dealer, was charged with second-degree murder and the distribution of a schedule II controlled substance. Fedaku is a drug dealer, who allegedly sold fentanyl to 37 year-old Shaun Antonio Alexander— a man who was found dead due to a drug overdose. Bruck Fekadu is currently in Cabarrus County Jail awaiting trial.
Jason Russell, Tennessee
Jason Russell was taken into custody yesterday after being charged for second-degree murder for selling a 27 year-old woman the drugs that would cause her overdose. After investigating this 27 year-old woman’s case, police took Jason Russell into custody and plan to see him in court on May 24th.
Sergio Pere and Melanie Cunningham, Florida
Both Sergio Pere and Melanie Cunningham were charged with first-degree murder after selling heroin that was linked to two overdose deaths. Sergio Pere and Melanie Cunningham have been in Volusia County Jail after being arrested during a heroin ring crackdown operation, but both suspects were indicted on murder charges in late April of this year. The two alleged ringleaders of a heroin selling operation sold one victim heroin that died of an overdose only fifteen minutes after the sale.
Antoin Thornton, Georgia
Antoin Thornton was charged with felony murder this week, arrested almost two months after selling heroin to a 22 year-old man. The heroin Antoin Thornton sold to the victim led to the 22 year-old’s overdose. After an investigation, law enforcement found that the heroin sold by Thornton was laced with the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl. Antoin Thornton faced charges of felony murder, drug trafficking and violating Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act.
Trumaine Muller, Florida
Trumaine Muller of Jacksonville, Florida received a life sentence in federal prison for selling fentanyl to an 18 year-old woman who overdosed on the substance. Muller received the maximum sentence of life in prison after selling fentanyl to the victim’s boyfriend, who thought he was buying heroin. The 18 year-old woman was given what she also thought was heroin, by her boyfriend Tyler Hamilton and his friend Christopher Williams— both men were charged and convicted with manslaughter after providing the 18 year-old woman, Ariel Brundige, with the substance that led to her lethal overdose.
Latese Hudson, Minnesota
Latese Hudson was charged with third-degree murder for supplying carfentanil-laced heroin to an overdose victim. Hudson already has felony charges on his record, and is awaiting trial for an unrelated shooting. According to documents from a Minneapolis court, Latese Hudson has sold many “bad batches” of heroin, all cut using the extremely potent synthetic opioid carfentanil— which is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, and can be lethal even in the smallest amounts.
Criminal justice systems have been holding drug dealers accountable for their actions, as the number of drug overdose deaths, particularly with opioids, continues to rise amidst our current opioid crisis. The epidemic is widespread, and as you can see, is a problem in every state. Law enforcement comments that they hope the charges they file will teach local drug dealers to rethink their behavior, because if the drugs they sell cause an overdose death, law enforcement will pursue charges. Law enforcement also makes a point to tell reporters that they view each drug overdose death as a homicide, and plan to continue their prosecution of drug dealers who sold victims the drugs that killed them.
What Do You Think?
Do you believe street drug dealers should be charged with murder for selling illicit and lethal drugs? A common trend in the criminal justice system of today, is taking action against those who are contributing to the opioid crisis— whether that be street-level dealers, big pharmaceutical executives, drug manufacturers, traffickers, or distributors. Despite the actions of these individuals, all victims chose to use the illicit drug. We see both sides of an argument when it comes to disciplinary action, but we want to know what you think. Let us know below.
If you or someone you know is struggling and seeking addiction treatment, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team makes themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.
“Alleged Drug Dealer Charged with Murder after 37-Year-Old Overdoses.” WJZY, Fox 46, 16 May 2019, www.fox46charlotte.com/news/local-news/alleged-drug-dealer-charged-with-murder-after-37-year-old-overdoses
“Alleged Minneapolis Drug Dealer Charged with Murder in Overdose Case.” Fox 9, KMSP-News, 11 June 2018, www.fox9.com/news/alleged-minneapolis-drug-dealer-charged-with-murder-in-overdose-case
Collins, Dave. “Should Drug Dealers Be Charged with Murder? States Ponder.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 25 Feb. 2019, www.apnews.com/a5deb83c79974ff3a40188043e5a6931
Harris, Jamai. “Alleged Drug Dealer Charged With Murder After Man Dies From Overdose.” Black America Web, Interactive One, LLC., 15 May 2019, blackamericaweb.com/2019/05/14/alleged-drug-dealer-charged-with-murder-after-man-dies-from-overdose/
Harris, Jenese, and Ashley Harding. “Drug Dealer given Life in Federal Prison in Overdose Death.” News 4 JAX, Graham Media Group, 7 May 2019, www.news4jax.com/news/sentencing-for-drug-dealer-charged-overdose-death
Nixon, Amy. “Hendersonville Drug Dealer Charged with Murder after Overdose.” The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessean, 17 May 2019, www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/sumner/hendersonville/2019/05/17/hendersonville-drug-dealer-charged-murder-after-overdose/3704680002/
Souverain, Deborah. “Volusia Deputies: Drug Dealers Charged With Murder For Overdose Deaths.” Spectrum News, Spectrum News 13, 23 Apr. 2019, www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/crime/2019/04/23/volusia-county-drug-dealers-charged-with-murder-for-overdose-deaths