Drug trafficking is a serious offense in Florida, and it can lead to decades behind bars for those convicted. The failed War on Drugs for years pushed this arcane agenda that often led to even low-level offenders serving many years in prison. Today, even as some of those minimum mandatory penalties for possession have been rolled back, dealers of illicit drugs still face hefty punishment. Additionally, as addiction to heroin and prescription opioids has become epidemic nationally, prosecutors are increasingly looking to hold responsible doctors and dealers for fatal overdoses. That can mean a possible life sentence for simply writing a prescription or a single, low-level drug deal.
That’s what happened recently in Palm Beach County, where a federal jury sentenced a 25-year-old man to 30 years in prison for supplying a 23-year-old man the dose of fentanyl on which he later fatally overdosed. In what is believed to be the first federal prosecution of its kind, The Sun Sentinel reported jurors found the defendant, Christopher Massena, criminally liable for the death of the other young man.
In this case, the fentanyl sold to the decedent was reportedly 50 to 100 times more powerful than the heroin the victim believed he was buying. This, alleged prosecutors, displayed a “total disregard for human life,” warranting the three-decade sentence. The U.S. District Judge additionally ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised probation upon his release and to pay restitution to the victim’s parents in the amount of $5,000. Continue reading