With news of yet another tragic local death caused by illicit fentanyl, the Trail Times asked the RCMP about steps being taken by law enforcement to hold dealers accountable for overdose deaths.
“Surely this crime is considered manslaughter?” the Times asked. “What is the likelihood the dealer will be caught and face repercussions for someone dying? Or, is it far fetched to think that anyone will face charges in court?”
While he has not been part of any such investigation, Sgt. Mike Wicentowich said “there has been cases that someone has been charged for selling someone else a fatal dose of street drugs.”
This type of prosecution, however, presents many legal challenges.
“It is very difficult to prove who gave the person the drug, and the person is willingly consuming it despite the dangers, ” explains Wicentowich, Trail detachment commander.
“The circumstance to lay a charge would likely be an exceptional one given the amount of people dying and thus far no charges.”
Despite this being a far-reaching and complicated issue that cannot be solved by enforcement alone, Wicentowich says the Trail RCMP continue to prioritize drug trafficking investigations.
In the meantime, he says people should not use alone.
Seeking help for addiction is critical — even if the intervention is to help the person manage and control their usage rather than abstain.
Shelter, food, clothing, medical care, addiction treatment, safe supply, education, a safe injection site or program may all help reduce morbidity and mortality, he adds.
“I believe that policing, like the RCMP, supports decriminalization and its development but acknowledges we still have a crisis and a long way to go.”
Wicentowich encourages the public to learn about addiction, and gain better insight of those who struggle with addiction.
“Everything helps,” he says. “Including a little understanding of their situation.”