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Drug overdose deaths may result in murder charges for suppliers

The nature of recreational drug use may be changing here in Waukesha and other mid-size communities around the Midwest. Marijuana continues to be the drug of choice for many curious young people who wish to experiment, and plenty of high school and college students find themselves facing charges of marijuana possession.

But once-forbidden drugs are now becoming cheaper, stronger and more available. One of these drugs is heroin. And in some communities around the United States, higher numbers of heroin overdose deaths are leading prosecutors to charge the victims' drug suppliers with homicide.

In a recent news article, a U.S. attorney in southern Illinois was quoted as saying: "We are going to treat every overdose scene like a crime scene. We are going to treat every overdose as a potential homicide. Heroin is the bullet."

According to the article, heroin coming from Mexico is now purer and stronger than in the past. This means that it can be swallowed or snorted, making it more appealing to casual users because needles are not involved.

And when users die from an overdose, prosecutors are aggressively going after the immediate link in the supply chain.

This is a similar response to drug overdose deaths which have recently occurred here in Wisconsin. Police will try to hold someone criminally accountable, whether the supplier was a friend of the victim or a drug dealer.

While fatal overdoses are certainly unintended and tragic, the decision to take drugs in the first place was each victim's personal choice. Nonetheless, prosecutors are doing all they can to make sure that others who handled those drugs are held liable.

With the stakes pushing ever higher, anyone facing drug charges may wish to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Fox News, "A shift to more aggressive tactics against heroin," April 14, 2012

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