Despite Overdose Deaths, New Drug Law Goes Unused

More people are dying in South Florida from a drug overdose than gun violence. A local mother who lost her son to drugs helped push for a new law to prosecute drug dealers, but the NBC 6 Investigators found it hasn’t been used yet.

Cindy Dodds’ son, Kyle, died of a drug overdose in September of 2016. He drove to Overtown, a neighborhood near downtown Miami, ingested a drug and died on the sidewalk.

The drug he took was mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil, synthetics that can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Kyle’s addiction started, after getting prescribed pain medication for a shoulder injury he got playing high school football.

“It started with a legal prescription from a wonderful doctor who did his job,” said Cindy Dodds.

Cindy helped push for a new law to be passed in Florida that allows prosecutors to charge drug dealers with felony murder, if they sell a synthetic drug that leads to an overdose.

The bill had the backing of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

“Clearly we had to do something,” said Fernandez Rundle. “We couldn’t prosecute anyone, any of the dealers or the suppliers of those drugs, because they weren’t covered in the state statute.”

They’re covered now. It became law in Florida in October 2017.

Since then, 79 people have died in Miami Dade County alone due to an overdose of synthetic drugs. NBC 6 Investigators found not a single drug dealer in South Florida has been charged under the new law.

Tying an overdose to a particular drug dealer can be difficult. In Kyle Dodds’ case, his cell phone disappeared, there was no bag of drug evidence found and no witnesses who came forward.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney said the law is changing the way evidence is sought after moving forward.

“Before we had some cases but didn’t have the law,” said Fernandez Rundle.

“So now when we start to gather the evidence, we look at who sold it, are their fingerprints on a baggy, what was the amount, who was with them.”

Meanwhile, Cindy Dodds is doing her part in the fight against drugs.

She’s visiting schools and telling her son’s story.

She recently went to Kyle’s former high school, Westminster Christian Academy, to give a talk in front of the high school students.

She says it was an emotional reunion.

“I have a big mouth,” said Dodds. “We’re pretty much unstoppable when we lose our kids.”

Dodds showed a video of her son and told students, “Kyle sunk in shame, don’t live in shame or fear. People love you.”

In addition to speaking to schools, Dodds also helps educate workers at the state attorney’s office about the dangers of drugs and what her son experienced.

The new legislation also strengthens the penalties for people who carry and traffic synthetic drugs.

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