Oklahoma DA Says Drug Dealers Connected To Overdose Deaths Should Face Murder Charges – news9.com KWTV
The District Attorney representing Adair, Cherokee, Wagoner and Sequoyah counties said he plans to prosecute drug dealers for murder, when their drugs lead to people dying from overdoses.
District Attorney Jack Thorp said his team has prosecuted overdose death cases as murders before, but he said overdose deaths are skyrocketing and murder charges should be the new standard.
Thorp has been studying Oklahoma medical examiner reports for months. He said in his four counties alone, more than 70 people have died from a drug overdose in the past two years.
“I think that we should start treating these overdose victims, as victims. And we should start going after the drug dealers, those individuals that distribute those drugs, as murderers, because that’s what they’re doing. They’re delivering the drugs that kill these people,” Thorp said.
Thorp said the change starts with law enforcement treating overdose deaths as crime scenes from the very beginning, by collecting evidence right away to build a case, as if it were a homicide scene. Another part of the plan is education and connecting addicts with life-saving resources before it’s too late.
“Northeastern Oklahoma and the western part of Arkansas are pretty much treatment deserts,” Drug addiction specialist Dr. Jennifer Mathis said.
Dr. Mathis and her husband Dr. Jason Ballew are opening an outpatient clinic in Tahlequah for addiction patients later this month.
“People don’t realize that it’s now in everything and everything is fentanyl. The heroin around here, the so-called heroin, is actually fentanyl,” Dr. Ballew said.
Dr. Ballew said it’s not just heroin being laced with fentanyl, but meth, cocaine, Adderall, and Xanax too. The team looks forward to welcoming anyone looking for help and a fresh start.
Ballew encourages people to learn how to use Narcan, and carry it with you in case there is an opportunity to help someone.
He also pointed to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to look for local resources.