Earlier in 2015, three individuals died of drug overdoses in western Pennsylvania. Investigators have tracked those deaths and have charged five people with federal drug charges related to the matter. As the cases move forward, the five men are in danger of serious punitive repercussions if a conviction is achieved.
The five men range in age from 22 to 58 and are all from Pennsylvania. Federal prosecutors believe that all were involved in the distribution of heroin and that their actions directly contributed to the deaths of the three overdose victims. They are charged with possession with the intent to deliver heroin that led to death. Some of the men also face federal charges related to the possession of weapons during a drug-related crime.
In connecting the men to the deaths, investigators focused on the drug packaging found within a hotel room where one of the men died. Many drug dealers will use special labels or other markings to create a brand image for their product. The packaging investigators founded was marked with an abbreviation that allowed police to track the packaging back to these individuals.
The family of one of the overdose victims claim to know that one of the accused was the man's drug dealer, and they assert that they had asked the man to leave their loved one alone. It is unclear what additional information led investigators to connect all of the men to the deaths. As the cases move ahead, the manner in which each man is connected to the victims and the timeframe leading up to their deaths will likely play a role within their defense.
Should a conviction be achieved against any of these five Pennsylvania men, the repercussions could be severe. The federal drug charges of possession with the intent to deliver, as well as delivering heroin that led to death, have sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison. The weapons charges would add additional time to those sentences. Each of these men will have the opportunity to structure their own defense in the matter in the hopes of avoiding these negative outcomes.
Source: wpxi.com, "Feds: 5 sold heroin that killed 3 in western Pennsylvania", July 24, 2015