INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A man accused of selling the powerful opioid that led to a deadly overdose in July is now being held in the Marion County Jail.
The arrest marks the first time the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has used a new state law to hold drug dealers responsible for deaths caused by what they sell on the street.
Dewayne Mahone was arrested in July after selling drugs to Tony Harrell. Police say those drugs were laced with fentanyl.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears on Wednesday charged Harrell with Dealing a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death, which carries a prison sentence of up to 50 years.
“Before we were just limited to filing a dealing charge,” said Mears.
Mahone already faces the following six charges related to possession and dealing drugs.
Investigators were led to Mahome after an acquaintance of Harrell’s identified him as a suspect in the case.
A search warrant was obtained for Mahome’s house. Inside, police found fentanyl, heroin, and a mix of fentanyl and heroin.
“When they (investigators) did that search warrant at the individual’s home, they found more fentanyl and so they very likely saved other people’s lives,” said Mears.
Before the new law, charges for dealing drugs resulting in a person’s death would max out at 16 years.
“Fentanyl is a deadly, dangerous drug that is going to result in the death of people and you have individuals that are preying on people’s addiction, they are exploiting that addiction, and those individuals need to be held accountable, especially when the consequences are death,” said Mears.
Ending prosecution of small marijuana possession cases was something Mears says allows them to put more time and focus on people like Mahone.
“There is a significant difference in a little bit of marijuana and a little bit of fentanyl. A little bit of marijuana is not something that is going to result in addiction or death, a little bit of fentanyl can kill somebody,” said Mears.
Since the law was enacted in 2018, Mahome and 14 others in Indiana have been charged with dealing drugs resulting in death.
(Photo provided by IMPD.)