After law enforcement swept a record amount of illegal narcotics off the streets this summer, Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he will introduce legislation to crack down on fentanyl drug dealers with harsher sentences.
Under his proposal, if someone dies due to ingesting a controlled substance, whoever sold or distributed that substance to the victim will be charged with murder in the second degree, an unclassified felony that comes with a sentencing range of 15-99 years.
“Public safety has and will continue to be our number one priority. These drug dealers are killing Alaskans with illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced illicit opioids,” Dunleavy said. “We need to use every tool at our disposal to hold these dealers accountable to the fullest extent possible. By increasing criminal penalties and eliminating ‘good time’ credit for dealers of illicit drugs, our prosecutors can do better.”
The Alaska Department of Public Safety, along with local and federal law enforcement partners, seized over 212 pounds of illegal narcotics across the state this summer. That haul included 2.45 million potentially fatal doses of illicit fentanyl (5,000 grams), 22,441 grams of heroin, 22,865 grams of methamphetamine, 13,306 grams of cocaine, and many other illicit narcotics that were intercepted since May.
Alaska State Troopers say 25 arrests were also made between May 1 and Sept. 30, and that the amount of illegal drugs intercepted is double what was intercepted in 2021. Most of the fentanyl is coming from China through Mexico and was seized in Juneau, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Anchorage. Kodiak was a hot spot in September, when troopers seized $656,000 in fentanyl.
Under the proposal by Dunleavy, there would be no “good time” available to drug dealers who serve time in prison. Some crimes, he said, are just not deserving of early release. Peddling poison is one of those crimes.
The governor is also going to propose more uniform sentencing standards for vehicular homicide. Alaska criminal statute contains no specific vehicular homicide statute. State prosecutors are faced with bringing manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or murder in the second-degree charges in the event of a homicide involving a vehicle. This has led to prosecutors seeking a variety of sentences handed down by judges, which has created sentencing disparities.
Dunleavy’s proposal would create the following class of vehicular homicide statutes:
- Aggravated vehicular homicide – Where the person causes the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle and manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. This offense would be an unclassified felony (99-year max).
- Vehicular homicide – where the person recklessly causes the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle. This offense would be a class A felony (20-year max).
- Negligent vehicular homicide – where the person acts with criminal negligence and causes the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle. This offense would be a class B felony (10-year max).
The proposal, which will come in the form of legislation for the 2023 legislative session, is at this link.