BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fentanyl deaths are skyrocketing across Maryland with overdoses killing more than two thousand people in the state in 2018. Now, federal prosecutors say they will evaluate all fentanyl distribution arrests in Baltimore and decide whether to prosecute them in federal court, which means tougher sentences for offenders.
“The crisis is acute, and we are determined to get the number of deaths down,” said United States Attorney Robert Hur.
Prosecutors in his office along with the DEA and Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office will consider each case. Those brought to federal court carry mandatory minimum sentences and little chance of parole.
“It’s literally killing people on a mass scale,” said City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “It fuels violence we’re seeing in Baltimore.”
Mosby noted people are more likely to die of an opioid overdose in Baltimore than gun violence.
The number of deaths due to fentanyl overdoses have jumped more than 8,000 percent in the past decade in Maryland with an average of six people dying each day.
Heroin overdose deaths are up more than 300 percent in that same period—to 945 in 2018. Prescription opioid deaths are up more than 140% in the past decade to 401 this year according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Hur also announced three new indictments Wednesday.
Gari Terrell Miller, 38, of Clinton, faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison.
Davon Nelson, 33, and Terrell Perry, 34, both from Baltimore, face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
They have not yet had their initial appearances in U.S. District Court, but remain detained on related state charges.
Aubrey Heckstall, 46, also from Baltimore, is charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and has not yet had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court.
Prosecutors also recently indicted Nevone McCrimmon, 47, of Edgewood; William Elijah, 51; and Terrance Mobley, 50, both of Baltimore, on the federal charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl.
That is enough to kill more than 200 thousand people, prosecutors said.
They alleged the men obtained the drugs from a Miami-based drug trafficking organization with ties to the Sinaloa and Tijuana Mexican drug cartels.
In another case, Narmada Walls, 38, who lives on the Eastern Shore, was indicted on charges he used a fake name and email address to obtain fentanyl shipped from China, which lead to at least one overdose death.
Prosecutors have also secured convictions against two local pharmacists for illegally prescribing opioids.
Richard Daniel Hiller, 64, from Owings Mills will serve three and a half years in federal prison for prescribing oxycodone in exchange for sexual favors.
David Robinson, 59, of Baltimore entered a guilty plea to opioid-related charges. Prosecutors said he owned the Frankford Family Pharmacy and admitted illegally dispensing oxycodone and alprazolam.
A new CDC study revealed fentanyl is now the deadliest drug in America, surpassing heroin.
Police and prosecutors are also worried about the growing problem of carfentinil, which is more powerful than fentanyl.
They warned that some traffickers cut other drugs with cheaper, powerful opioids that could kill unsuspecting users.