Heroin Dealer Faces Life In Prison After Pleading Guilty To Causing 27 Opioid Overdoses

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A Baltimore heroin dealer linked to 27 overdoses, including nine that proved fatal, faces a life sentence in prison after admitting to supplying the drugs.

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore said 24-year-old Karon Peoples plead guilty Wednesday to being involved in a heroin distribution conspiracy that caused nine overdose deaths and 18 non-fatal overdoses between May 2015 and January 2018. Specifically, Peoples acknowledged all 27 people had contacted his phone to buy heroin preceding their overdoses, reported The Baltimore Sun.

After several undercover purchases from Peoples, police executed a search warrant at his residence in December 2017, seizing 900 grams of heroin, more than $400,000 in cash, paraphernalia, scales and packaging materials.

Authorities subsequently arrested Peoples Jan. 9 at his home, confiscating 49 cellphones that investigators with the Harford County Narcotics Task Force were able to use to link Peoples to the overdose cases. The victims came to Baltimore for heroin from a range of locations, including Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. (RELATED: Historic Narcotics Bust Yields Enough Fentanyl To ‘Kill Everyone On The East Coast’)

“Unfortunately, more often than not, we are tracing back our source suppliers to Baltimore City,” Capt. Lee Dunbar, head of the Harford County task force, previously told The Baltimore Sun. “We’re not alone. That’s the vast majority of Maryland, Baltimore metro counties, Baltimore City is their source supply, as well as for northern Virginia, northeast West Virginia and as far out as western Maryland.”

Peoples is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 16, facing a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life.

Drug overdoses, fueled by synthetic opioids, are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC data released on July 11 shows the majority of opioid-linked deaths are now the result of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The report shows synthetic opioids killed roughly 27,000 people across the U.S. over the 12-month period ending November 2017, up from roughly 19,413 lives in 2016 and 9,580 lives in 2015. The sharp increase prompted a Health Alert Network warning from CDC officials advising of the ever-increasing presence of synthetic opioids in the drug supply, including in non-opioid narcotics such as cocaine.

The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials say. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.

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