New Hampshire Cracks Down On Drug Dealers Linked To Fatal Overdoses

By Victoria Kim 03/28/17
Officials hope the crackdown will discourage people from selling the powerful, and sometimes deadly, drugs.
2 people exchanging pills for money in a drug deal.

New Hampshire is doubling down on its efforts to lock up drug dealers. According to the Associated Press, it is the first state to coordinate its efforts to track down and arrest people who sell drugs that result in a fatal overdose.

The strategy, led by Attorney General Joe Foster, teaches law enforcement across New Hampshire how to use evidence, such as phone records, to trace the source of the drugs. As a result, the number of drug dealers charged with “death resulting” rose from 1 to 11 since last year.

An additional 114 cases from across New Hampshire are being investigated by the attorney general’s office. 

Last week, 27-year-old Ryan Kirk, of Rochester, was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to selling fentanyl to a man who died of a drug overdose last June.

Some attorneys general from states like Alabama and Florida are looking to New Hampshire’s example in handling their own problems with opioid abuse and overdose. 

These officials have signed on to the idea that charging drug dealers with homicide, manslaughter or other criminal charges, and handing down harsh prison sentences, would effectively discourage people from selling the powerful and sometimes deadly drugs.

But others see this tough-on-crime approach as history repeating itself. “We’ve tried to arrest and prosecute our way out of drug problems before to no avail,” said criminal defense attorney Mark Sisti, according to the AP. “We’re not getting drug overdose death prosecutions against the big guys; we’re getting them against the small guys.”

In December, a Florida man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for supplying fentanyl that killed another man. Authorities were able to track him down via the victim’s cell phone.

Florida AG Pam Bondi says she often discusses strategies to “fighting” her state’s opioid problem with AG Foster. 

In early March, New Hampshire officials met with the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C. to help law enforcement in other states replicate their strategy.

Also this month, three people in Pennsylvania were charged with the death of another, 23-year-old Alexandria Sienkiewicz, whose cause of death was ruled as Acute Fentanyl Toxicity via Homicide by a coroner.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr