SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – Some prosecutors in Southern California are stepping up charges against those who sell deadly illegal drugs containing fentanyl.
Orange County Register reports that District Attorney Todd Spitzer is considering issuing a plea deal warning warning that a dealer involved in another fatal fentanyl sale could be charged with murder.
Neighboring counties of Riverside and San Bernardino have charged suspected traffickers with murder, as have counties of San Luis Obispo and Contra Costa, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
“It’s a trick, people buy Oxycontin and it turns out it’s fentanyl,” Spitzer told the newspaper. “It’s like they’re handing you a loaded gun and you don’t know it’s loaded.”
Spitzer called a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the plan for the county of 3 million people.
The move comes as drug-related deaths are expected to hit a record 100,000 this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal prosecutors have charged suspected fentanyl dealers with murder, but it’s not as easy to do under state law. Some California lawmakers have proposed bills to treat fentanyl as a more threatening drug and to warn those convicted of trafficking that they could face murder charges for similar actions resulting in death, but these proposals fail. have not become law.
In Orange County, public defender Martin Schwarz said issuing a notice has no legal status, unlike a state-mandated process that exists in impaired driving cases.
In Los Angeles County, home to a quarter of California’s 40 million people, no plans to toughen charges against suspected dealers have been announced.
In the town of Temecula, Riverside County, Matt CapeIouto, whose 20-year-old daughter Alexandra died after taking what she thought was oxycodone, wants to see change. He said he and his wife found their daughter dead in her bedroom after she went online to look for something to relieve depression.
âIt was ruled to be an accidental, not criminal overdose – but it’s outdated,â CapeIouto said. ” It’s not correct. My daughter was poisoned.
Amy Neville, whose 14-year-old son Alexander died after taking what he thought was Oxycontin, said she didn’t think the warning was enough, but it’s a start.
âThe fentanyl will still be there, the drug dealers will continue to sell,â she said. âWhen one is arrested, there is always another to take his place. But in the end, with the warning, at least this trafficker is about to fall victim to future drug trafficking. “