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New initiative to combat fentanyl crisis

Potential for longer prison sentences, no parole
Posted at 1:15 PM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 08:19:51-05

BALTIMORE — The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a new initiative designed to combat the growing fentanyl overdose crisis. According to statistics for 2018, there are projected to be more than 2,000 fentanyl deaths statewide, and in Baltimore alone there are projected to be at least twice as many fatal fentanyl overdoses as homicides.

Under this new initiative, every arrest involving distribution of fentanyl made by law enforcement in Baltimore will be reviewed jointly by the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine whether the case will be handled in the state or federal system.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute more cases involving fentanyl as a result of this new program.

“State and federal law enforcement and prosecutors in Baltimore City are working together to arrest and prosecute those who peddle deadly fentanyl on our streets and in our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.

“More and more people are dying from fentanyl overdoses in Baltimore City and throughout the state. We must do everything we can to reduce overdose deaths from this drug and from all opioids.”

Individuals charged federally under this initiative may face substantial minimum mandatory sentences, no parole and no suspended sentences, and sentences are often served in federal prisons far from home.

For example, a defendant convicted in federal court of distributing 40 grams of fentanyl, enough to kill 20,000 people (just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal), faces at least five years in federal prison. A defendant convicted of distributing 400 grams of fentanyl faces at least 10 years in federal prison, and if the distribution of fentanyl results in death, the defendant faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office unveiled three indictments charging four individuals in federal court. These three inaugural criminal cases targeting dealers of fentanyl are the first to be brought under the new program, with more prosecutions to come.

The federal prosecutions are all being investigated by Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with officers from the Baltimore Police Department and other local law enforcement. The following defendants are charged federally with conspiracy and with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

Gari Terrell Miller, age 38, of Clinton, Maryland, faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison. He is detained pending trial.

Davon Nelson, age 33, and Terrell Perry, age 34, both of 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, age 46, of 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.

The fentanyl program is intended to augment ongoing opioid reduction strategy. That strategy includes proactive criminal investigations to reach the sources of supply, including those outside Maryland, prosecuting doctors and pharmacists who divert and illegally distribute opioids, as well as public outreach in Maryland communities.