Hillsborough sheriff pursues life sentences for drug suspects

- The Hillsborough County sheriff and the U.S. attorney put drug dealers on notice Monday: if someone dies from the drugs you deal, you'll go to prison for life.  

"To those who prey on our society with their illegal drugs, today is a new day,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “You deal; they die? You are responsible." 

Chronister and Maria Chapa Lopez, U.S. attorney for Florida's middle district, spoke at a press conference announcing the indictment of three alleged drug dealers on federal charges, including 22 year-old Corey Smith Jr.

Prosecutors say Smith sold the synthetic opioid Fentanyl that killed Bradley Dykes in north Tampa last November. 

"If people consider it murder, if that stops somebody, all the better," said Dykes' mother, Loueita Hargens, who attended the press conference. 

Chronister and Lopez said medical examiners are critical in these cases. The say they must be able to prove that the drugs supplied by the dealer are the exact ones that killed the victim. 

"We take this very seriously, and as hard as they are, as difficult as they are, we will not look away," said Lopez.

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