The Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday it had begun to more carefully investigate fatal overdoses in which multiple people obtained illegal drugs from the same source.
Assistant Chief Bea Girmala said the Department's Gang and Narcotics Division was now being notified as part of a new protocol and would attempt to find the source of the drugs, as a result of the nationwide spike in accidental overdose deaths linked to the synthetic opiate Fentanyl.
"So that we're not just dealing with the emergency at hand, but what does the supply chain look like," she said. "Can we link it to any particular dealer or an establishment where maybe people had frequented prior to the overdose?"
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The LAPD would cooperate with DEA agents on these investigations, much as other local law enforcement agencies have been doing in efforts to identify and prosecute the suppliers, Girmala said.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced last week that his office would consider pursuing murder charges against certain drug dealers caught providing illegal substances that lead to a death.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said his office has already begun to prosecute dealers.
They said those prosecutions rely on giving dealers a formal warning prior to a death allegation, similar to how convicted drunk drivers can be charged with second-degree murder if a subsequent wreck causes a death.