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home : most recent : statewide implications April 26, 2017


4/9/2017 6:51:00 PM
New Hampshire, other states using drug overdoses as possible trail to dealer

Ron Shawgo, Journal Gazette

Allen County had more than 80 drug overdose deaths last year. A national trend would treat each as a crime scene to help arrest dealers.

The effort is being led by New Hampshire, where police officers and prosecutors are being trained to look for evidence so drugs can be traced to sellers to help curb opioid deaths.

Nothing similar is happening in Indiana, according to the state attorney general's office. An Indiana State Police spokesman said the department is keeping an eye on the success of training in other states before considering such an approach.

An overdose death is treated as accidental in Fort Wayne, though police still look for evidence of crime, Fort Wayne police Capt. Kevin Hunter said. Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mike McAlexander said he could not remember a case in which a dealer was charged in a client's overdose.

“Certainly, in the right circumstance we would consider treating it as a crime scene and have done so and will certainly do so again,” McAlexander said.

Outgoing New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster launched the training last summer so officers could learn how to track bad ­batches of drugs to the source, with the goal of charging dealers – particularly large suppliers – who cause overdoses with “death resulting,” a previously little-used charge that carries a sentence of up to life in prison.

In Indiana, a dealer could be charged with reckless homicide if death was the result of an overdose, McAlexander said.

In addition to New Hampshire, authorities in Ohio, Maine, West Virginia and New Jersey are filing homicide, involuntary manslaughter or related charges against dealers.

Related Links:
• The Journal Gazette full text

Related Stories:
• Overdose cluster worries Terre Haute police
• Indiana drug overdose rate doubles in last decade, CDC reports

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