LANCASTER COUNTY — At least 30 suspects were charged with felony counts of drug delivery resulting in death in 2018, according to figures released by the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
The charges were in connection to fatal drug overdoses in Lancaster County, the DA said.
The felony charges resulted in state-prison sentences for nearly every defendant convicted, the DA said. The charges are filed when police determine the supplier of a drug, most commonly heroin/fentanyl, involved in a fatality.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman has instructed local police departments to investigate every fatal overdose for the supplier. Assistant District Attorney Barry Goldman oversees many of those investigations and is lead prosecutor of the filed cases.
At least 60 individuals have been charged with DDRD for offenses in Lancaster County since 2016. Some of those individuals were charged with multiple counts for multiple deaths.
“Enforcement is absolutely a prong in the collaborative efforts to stall the opioid epidemic,” Stedman said. “We hope these serious charges, and the heavy penalties they carry, send a clear message to dealers.”
Additionally, the DA’s Office is involved in about 15 to 20 pending investigations which could result in charges.
Steps are being taken to find out who provided the deadly doses in those deaths.
Municipal police departments and Pennsylvania State Police, in conjunction with the Lancaster County Drug Task Force and Lancaster city police’s Selective Enforcement Unit, investigate all overdose deaths for potential charges.
The charges, and subsequent penalties upon conviction, are believed to have a deterrent effect. Some suppliers have turned to dealing methamphetamine or other narcotics so to avoid deadly overdose risk, according to the Lancaster Drug Task Force.
“Drug dealers are business savvy, and they are aware of potential penalties that certain charges bring,” Stedman said. “In drug delivery resulting in death cases, we are seeing minimum prison terms of several years.”
The Drug Task Force is a team of municipal and county investigators that targets mid- to upper-level operations across Lancaster County.