Tallahassee Man Gets 20 Years For Distributing Fentanyl On Probation
Federal authorities announced a 19-year sentence against a man who was previously convicted of drug trafficking in 2005. While out on probation, he was caught once again trafficking fentanyl. He received a 19-year sentence on those charges.
The federal government does not like when individuals who are released on probation go straight back to running criminal enterprises. In this case, the defendant had been initially charged for cocaine trafficking. While out on probation after serving 5 years, the government caught wind that the defendant was once again selling drugs. They staged a controlled purchase of what they believed was heroin, tested it, and it turned out to be fentanyl.
To be sure, the government doesn’t like fentanyl. It contributed 68% of overdose deaths in the past year along with other synthetic opioids. It is by many degrees stronger than even heroin and other opioids that are broadly available on the black market. It is extremely easy to misgauge a dose.
Sentences in fentanyl cases
The federal government operates on a point system to keep sentences as transparent and consistent as possible. The average offense level for fentanyl trafficking is 26. With no priors, this would fall into the range of 5 to 6 years or 63 to 78 months. With priors, it can go as high as 150 months. Other elements that can drive up a sentence include the presence of a firearm during the transaction and a leadership role within the criminal enterprise responsible for distributing heroin. The average sentence for fentanyl trafficking is 74 months.
In more than half of these cases, defendants face subsequent charges related to the possession of a weapon.
What’s so great about fentanyl?
If you think about the problem from the vantage of the trafficker, fentanyl is great because it takes about 10 times less of the volume to produce a comparable high to heroin. In other words, it takes up less space, which makes it easier to move, which makes it cheaper to move, which makes it more profitable. In fact, when you think about the cost of fentanyl in correspondence to the size of the doses, a single truck would be able to move 10 times more fentanyl doses than heroin. That’s 10 times as much profit in a single load. So, the great thing about fentanyl is that there is a lot of money to be made.
As some in the computer industry are fond of saying, the problem with fentanyl is a feature, not a bug. Fentanyl was developed in the late 1950s as an anesthetic. It continues to be produced for that reason legally. Fatalities related to the drug continue to skyrocket. Factors include the opioid epidemic and increasing availability.
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