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OPP Continues to Lay Manslaughter Charges in Overdose-Related Deaths

OPP Continues to Lay Manslaughter Charges in Overdose-Related Deaths

If you are dealing opioids, you're contributing to the Crisis

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO September 10, 2019 –(LSN)  

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), along with other police services in Ontario, is sending a very clear and concise message to drug dealers across the province - claiming ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for supplying drugs that are killing people in our communities. There is an opioid crisis in our province, and in our country for that matter. It is a well-known fact that even a miniscule dose of fentanyl is deadly and if drug dealers are knowingly making the conscious decision to continue to supply fentanyl, they ought to know that their decision to do so could lead to the death of one or more people. Law enforcement wants to make these people aware that dealing fentanyl can lead to more than trafficking charges - we will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

The grounds to lay charges is dependent on the evidence collected during an overdose-related death investigation. Detective Inspector Pete Liptrott, OPP Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) provides a better understanding of the potential charges that can be laid in these investigations. 'Manslaughter and/or Criminal Negligence Causing Death are charges that may be considered. Manslaughter is a culpable homicide committed and maybe without the intention to cause death, however can involve the intention to commit an unlawful act or by criminal negligence. Criminal Negligence Causing Death can be doing anything which showed a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others, causing the death of another person.' Generally, if a person is illegally selling, distributing or trafficking a drug such as fentanyl, they are committing an unlawful act. With all of the knowledge that exists today on the topic of fentanyl and opioids, it may make it harder for a person to claim ignorance that they were unaware that supplying the drug could lead to an overdose death.

Since 2016, the OPP has investigated 13 occurrences where charges have been laid for Manslaughter and/or Criminal Negligence Causing Death in relation to fatal overdoses. Of note, eight of these occurred just this year. Multiple charges against various accused persons were laid in these 13 occurrences, including 20 Manslaughter charges, and 12 Criminal Negligence Causing Death charges.

The victims in these investigations vary in age, location and gender. Their ages range from as young as three to 42 years of age and they were from regions across the province. What this information illustrates is that this issue is widespread, powerful and it affects everyone regardless of age, gender or place of residence. Statistics tell us that in 2018, one life was lost every two hours in Canada due to overdoses.* There has been a 157 percent increase in opioid-related overdoses over a three-year period, and 73 per cent of apparent overdose-related deaths involved fentanyl.

The OPP is not the only police service to lay charges of this nature in overdose-related death investigations. Other police services have laid similar charges and collectively, the message is the same - if you are dealing fentanyl, you could be dealing the dose that leads to death, and you will be held accountable. If you're dealing, you're contributing to the crisis.

'There are no excuses in today's environment to continue to allow this drug to be distributed through our communities. People are dying from opioid overdoses every day. We are continuing to hold those people who are knowingly trafficking harmful substances, such as fentanyl, in our communities accountable for these deaths.' - Interim Deputy Paul BEESLEY, Investigations and Organized Crime, OPP

*Government of Canada, National Report: Apparent Opioid-related Deaths in Canada (June 2019),


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