Feds Charge Tampa Man in Overdose Death
This is the first time in Hillsborough County that an accused drug dealer has been arrested and federally indicted in connection with the distribution of fentanyl that resulted in someone’s death, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.
TAMPA – A Tampa man is facing federal charges in connection with the death of a man from an overdose of fentanyl, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.
Corey Diamond Smith Jr., 22, of Tampa, was indicted on one count of the distribution of fentanyl resulting in the death of an individual. This is the first time these types of charges have been applied in Hillsborough County in this manner. Smith faces a mandatory penalty of life in federal prison.
“You deal, they die, you are responsible,” Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said Monday (June 12) during a press conference announcing the charges.
While Hillsborough sheriff’s detectives, who were working in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, were investigating the Smith case, they discovered two other cases.
After a federal grand jury indictment, the U.S. attorney brought federal charges against Jeffery Rodriguez, 33, of Tampa. Rodriguez was charged with conspiring to distribute heroin and fentanyl related to seven opioid overdoses. Additionally, he was charged with five counts of distribution of heroin and fentanyl. He faces a mandatory penalty of life in federal prison. He is also facing a state charge of delivery of narcotics to undercover detectives.
Donald Calvin Hatch Jr., 28, of Tampa, was also arrested by HCSO detectives on a federal criminal complaint. Hatch was alleged to be responsible for distributing heroin and fentanyl as a middleman for Rodriguez. Hatch pleaded guilty June 6 to an information alleging a conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment. His sentencing is pending.
The Smith case began Nov. 13 when deputies answered a call to an address near the University Mall area for an unresponsive man who had just overdosed on opioids. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the scene and administered several doses of Narcan; however, lifesaving measures were unable to revive Bradley Dykes, 46.
Sheriff’s detectives said they found that Mr. Dykes had gotten the narcotics from Smith. The narcotics bought from Smith were portrayed as heroin; however, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy that revealed the cause of death as intoxication by fentanyl.
During the course of the Smith investigation, detectives began focusing on Rodriguez. Deputies said they determined he was responsible for about seven non-fatal overdoses throughout the Town N’ Country area.
Undercover detectives said they made several undercover purchases from Rodriguez and Hatch, his middleman. The drug buys totaled 6.2 grams of heroin and fentanyl.
Rodriguez and Hatch were subsequently arrested for the delivery of narcotics to the undercover detectives. A search warrant was served at Rodriguez’ residence where deputies said they found
$23,954 cash as well as 3 grams of heroin and fentanyl.
The arrests were the work of the Heroin Working Group, which the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office formed in 2017 when deputies determined there was a troubling trend concerning opioid-related deaths and non-fatal overdoses. The working group included undercover detectives, intelligence personnel, violent crimes detectives and crime analysts. This team’s purpose was to help diminish the effects of heroin and opioids in Hillsborough County through crime data analysis, investigation and undercover work.
Since it was created, officials said the Heroin Working Group has been effective in identifying hot spot overdose areas and targeting individuals selling heroin and more specifically, those selling heroin laced with fentanyl. The U.S. Attorney’s Office joined efforts with HCSO to target prolific dealers because of the nationwide profile concerning opioid abuse.
The Hillsborough Medical Examiner has also been a partner in combating the anti-opioid campaign. Unlike other labs, the Medical Examiner’s Office was able to test baggies recovered from the investigation scene, showing that Smith had actually sold fentanyl, which is more lethal than heroin.
Photo is screen grab of Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister during a press conference Monday. Video courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Hillsborough Sheriff | Bradley Dykes | U.S. Attorney | Crime | Drugs | Tampabay News
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