After a Kentucky woman died of an overdose, police viewed some of her texts as a smoking gun, a clue that allowed them to hold someone responsible in the 2015 death of a 37-year-old mother of two, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. They used the text exchange to find her dealer. They convinced the dealer to reveal his supplier. Both were charged federally with distribution of a controlled substance resulting in a death, a crime that carries a minimum of 20 years in a federal prison. The maximum punishment is life behind bars.
The case is part of a national trend to treat fatal and non-fatal overdoses as crimes — not accidents — to secure hefty prison sentences. The practice is taking root in Louisville, led by U.S. Attorney John Kuhn. “We have very active investigations going on that will generate prosecutions,” Kuhn said Wednesday, though he wasn’t ready to give specifics. “We’re going to try to disrupt the supply.” His office’s Overdose Prosecution Initiative, pairing prosecutors with Louisville Metro Police narcotics detectives and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, are getting $160,000 in federal funds. “We, as an agency, don’t look to target low-level dealers — but these guys are killing people,” said DEA agent-in-charge Jim Scott. “If we don’t stop them, they’re going to continue to kill people at an alarming rate.” The Courier-Journal tells the story of the prosecution in the mother’s death.