Drug dealers could face murder charge for opioid distribution

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA)- Buncombe County Emergency Services responds to 400 overdose calls so far this year, almost double the numbers the county saw last year.

The county identifies heroin, fentany, and carfentanil as inherently dangerous drugs that are making a big impact on the region. The county’s social services director says 70% of children currently in foster care come from homes where one of both parents have substance abuse issues.

In the past month, law enforcement has responded to several fatal overdoses and used the overdose reversal drug Narcan more than 200 times.

Legislation will be cracking down on the drug dealers, issuing harsher penalties for the offense.

The county’s district attorney explained how distributors of opioids could face 2nd degree murder charges. “Basically goes to the malice component second degree murder is the unlawful killing of another person with malice and the legislation has defined an opioid substance sold on the street as constituting that malice, said Todd Williams.

Buncombe County Sheriff Jack Duncan echoed the district attorney’s sentiments. Sheriff Duncan says they want to help residents get help; however, they have no sympathy for those responsibe for putting the drugs on the street.

“If you’re profiting from selling these drugs, there will be no safe haven for you. We are doing everything we can do to be better. And as you heard from the district attorney no plea bargaining and very little consideration for anybody who’s in the sale of heroin or fentanyl or carfentanil, said Duncan.

The legislation would go into effect December 1st. Current penalties for opioid offenses range from 5 years to 23 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.