The Galveston Police Department recently arrested a man who sold cocaine laced with fentanyl, which led to the overdose deaths of two people in Galveston on Christmas Day. According to media reports, police arrested Patrick Robert Miller, also of Galveston, who faces two charges of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance. He is being held on a $200,000 bond.
This arrest shows that those who sell drugs can face very steep penalties, especially if someone ends up dying from taking the drugs. Anyone with a felony drug charge thrown at them should immediately contact a Galveston criminal defense lawyer at Tad Nelson & Associates for a free consultation.
Unfortunately, the fentanyl-laced cocaine resulted in the overdose deaths of two people, Dimitrije Gudobski and Vadim Birca, who were in Galveston on work visas. They were found at different times on Seawall Boulevard. Their deaths have rocked the immigrant communities in Galveston. Thousands of people come to Galveston from around the globe to work in a variety of jobs, in particular the restaurant industry.
Investigators believe that Birca and Gudobski purchased the cocaine from the defendant at a Christmas party. Galveston PD coordinated with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of the investigation, and authorities have stated that the defendant will likely face other charges. Other people could also face arrest in connection with the deaths. According to public records, the defendant had prior misdemeanor convictions for unspecified crimes.
Penalties when Someone Dies from a Drug Overdose
Distributing controlled substances is a serious offense in Texas, which can net a defendant time in prison depending on the drug distributed. Cocaine is in Penalty Group 1 on the schedule of controlled substances, meaning it is one of the most dangerous drugs in the state. Distributing even a tiny bit of cocaine (under 1 gram) is a state jail felony. Selling 400 grams or more is a first-degree felony which can send someone to prison for a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life.
But what if someone dies taking the drug you sold them? In that tragic situation, a defendant faces enhanced penalties.
Texas Health and Safety Code section 481.141 states that a defendant’s punishment will increase by one degree if someone dies as a result of injecting or ingesting the drug. So if the defendant faces second-degree felony charges, he could ultimately be sentenced as if convicted of a first-degree drug felony.
Similarly, someone convicted of third-degree felony for a different scheduled drug might ultimately face second-degree felony punishment. Of course, defendants don’t know if someone will die—but that’s cold comfort and not relevant for purposes of the law.
How to Fight Drug Charges
Attorney Tad Nelson knows how bleak things can look after an arrest for an overdose death. However, you should contact his firm as soon as possible to discuss defenses. Police sometimes commit mistakes in their investigation, or they lack credible evidence to connect you to the drugs. Give our law firm a call to schedule a meeting.