In Lafayette Parish alone, overdose deaths jumped 68 percent from 2015 to 2016. The vast majority of those new cases were related to heroin.
Heroin deaths jumped threefold between 2015 and 2016. Fentanyl didn’t show up in 2015 death figures, but nine deaths in 2016 were partly or fully attributed to Fentanyl. Now, the accused dealers could face prosecution.
"It is homicide. It is still homicide," says District Attorney Keith Stutes, who says he is prosecuting heroin and fentanyl distributors. That includes not only sellers but people who deliver drugs, share drugs or inject someone.
"Heroin is present, opioids are present, the use is increasing and of course it’s resulting in deaths as well, so we have to follow the law, and we will follow the law," says Stutes.
Just last week Lafayette police arrested a man accused of providing the heroin that killed a Scott man in April. In December a grand jury indicted another man on second-degree murder in a similar case.
"The difficult part comes in determining if this person really is the person who distributed that particular drug and whether that particular drug is a drug that a person OD’d with," says criminal defense attorney, Alfred Boustany.
Both Stutes and Boustany agree this policy could backfire.
"Aggressive prosecution will lead to more deaths because those who are using drugs with someone who has overdosed will resist doing the right thing," says Stutes.
"What do you do? Do you call the police and risk potentially getting charged with second-degree murder, or do you just not report it? I don’t know. That is a problem," says Boustany.