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Missouri man indicted on federal charges in OD death

When a person dies from a drug overdose, law enforcement may open an investigation in hopes of tracking down where the drugs came from. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that deaths caused by drug overdoses, including prescription medication overdoses, have been on the rise over the past 20 years. The CDC says that more people die from overdoses than are killed in motor-vehicle accidents.

The trend apparently is not going unnoticed by the law enforcement community as agencies and prosecutors all across the nation seek ways to file charges related to these tragedies. Last October we discussed charges in Missouri against two teens related to an alleged synthetic drug overdose death. State prosecutors added a manslaughter charge related to that case in January.

Last week, federal prosecutors announced that a grand jury returned a federal indictment against a 27-year-old man that alleges the man supplied drugs to a Columbia teen who died from an overdose of heroin in early April. Originally, federal authorities accused the man of distributing drugs to a minor.

The federal complaint has now been replaced by an indictment that accuses the man of distribution of drugs causing death. Notably, the medical examiner has not made official findings as yet on the cause of death in the April incident, according to the Columbia Tribune.

Police believe that two men may have been involved in supplying the teen with drugs, according to court documents. However, authorities say that the man who was indicted last week admitted giving the teen heroin before leaving the motel room. Authorities say that the man returned to the unit at around 10:00 in the evening to find the female in distress. Police say that the man attempted CPR at some point during the night. He ultimately called emergency responders around 4:00 in the morning.

Federal drug crime statutes have a vast number of provisions, including harsh consequences related to allegations of supplying drugs that are allegedly linked to a fatal overdose. Federal penalties for a criminal offense may often be stricter than charges arising in state court proceedings.

Source: Columbia Tribune, "Federal grand jury indicts man on charge of supplying heroin to teenager," Alan Burdziak, May 22, 2014

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