HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Three people are behind bars - two charged with manslaughter - as Huntsville police investigate a drug overdose case.
Huntsville police say on June 3, officers were called to the 300 block of Spring Valley Court to investigate an apparent drug overdose. Evidence at the scene suggested Corey Alexander Brower, 26, had died from an overdose on fentanyl or a heroin-fentanyl compound.
After an investigation, arrest warrants were issued for three people:
- Bethany Ann McDuffie, 19, of Huntsville, was arrested and charged with manslaughter and conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime. She is in jail on a $40,000 bond.
- Jonathon Joe Curtis Allen, 25, of Lacey's Spring, was arrested and charged with manslaughter, conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime and distribution of opiates. He remains in jail on a $50,000 bond.
- Pedro Sierra, 24, of Huntsville, was arrested and charged with trafficking opiates, possession with intent to distribute opiates and possession of marijuana. He is jailed on a $181,000 bond.
- Thomas Obarr is charged with distribution of opiates. Additional charges may be brought in the future.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Sierra and Obarr were identified as part of a the heroin distribution chain that provided the heroin to Brower.
The Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Drug Task Force and ALEA assisted in the investigation, which is ongoing.
The Drug Enforcement Administration released a nationwide alert in March about fentanyl, which is commonly laced in heroin, being a threat to health and public safety.
"Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety," said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. "Often laced in heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues produced in illicit clandestine labs are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin."
According to the DEA, in the last two years, the agency has seen a significant resurgence in fentanyl-related seizures. According to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), state and local labs reported 3,344 fentanyl submissions in 2014, up from 942 in 2013. In addition, DEA has identified 15 other fentanyl-related compounds.
The Madison County District Attorney's Office said the manslaughter charges in a drug overdose case is something they have not done before.
"I would hope that it would send a strong message to the people who are dealing drugs that not only do you have to worry about the drug charges themselves now, but if you are accompliced in a case where someone dies, that you will be charged in that as well," said STAC Sergeant Jerry King.
Drug agents say unfortunately they are seeing the deadly combo of fentanyl and heroin more and more, and they think they know a big reason why.
"It is basic economics on the street," said STAC Sergeant Jerry King. "Supply and demand. We've cracked down, tough laws, tougher penalties, for prescription pills. And it has turned out to be a market for heroin because it mimics the same high."
King says it is also cheaper than prescription pills. However, he warns drug users that they are cracking down hard on heroin use.