Prosecutors cracking down on drug dealers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – An effort to crack down on drug dealers in Kentucky seems to be working according to law enforcement.

The new initiative involves prosecuting drug dealers and distributors that cause an overdose death or serious injury because of an overdose.

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The Overdose Prosecution Initiative was started in early 2015 by the United States Attorney’s Office.

Under federal law, defendants convicted of drug trafficking that results in a death or serious bodily injury, like an overdose, are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years to a maximum of life in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s office teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Administration to develop a plan to increase the use of this penalty, to increase cooperation between federal and state law enforcement, to train state and local partners on building effective cases for prosecution and to enhance the law enforcement response to this growing epidemic.

Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s office received three convictions regarding local overdose cases.

Luis Aguirre-Jerardo and Gill Garrett both admitted that they distributed a counterfeit pain pill to a Woodford County woman who died of an overdose. The U.S. Attorney’s office says this case represents the first time the office has prosecuted not only the street-level dealer but also his supply source.

The initiative has also produced the conviction of several members of an organization responsible for trafficking large amounts of heroin and fentanyl in Madison County from Detroit, which is known as a major source of the drug problem.

Fred Rebmann was also convicted. He admitted that he distributed fentanyl to a pregnant Lexington woman that caused her death. The U.S. Attorney says this shows the critical need to continue efforts to battle the growing problem.

“This is not a problem we can live with and this is not a problem that will find static and will stay under the radar. This is a problem that will destroy our communities if we don’t solve it,” said Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.