Suspected drug dealer charged after man's overdose death

- Melissa Winings said enough to find herself in jail.  In the call to her boyfriend, who is in jail, detectives said they spoke about how to cut heroin.

"I can't discuss in detail with you what exactly I do as well," she said to Robert Rigby on a call recorded August 26.

"I would say that you need to put a 3½ or a 4 on it," replied Rigby on the call.

Detectives say they used a code to talk about the continued sale of illegal drugs.

"They also talk about the way to cut the heroin so that it's not as powerful.  It doesn't kill people," said Captain John Walsh.

Three days after the call, detectives with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said a man she supplied drugs to died of an overdose.

"To us, it's not a medical event or an overdose by itself or just addiction. There is potential crime elements to all of those," continued Walsh.

An arrest affidavit said she gave him Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer 50 times stronger than heroin.
Now, she's behind bars too, charged with manslaughter.

It's been years since Sarasota deputies have filed manslaughter charges in connection with an overdose.   Detectives want people like Winings to know that if their victims overdose, they can and will be held accountable. That means a trip to jail.

"If they die, we are looking at potential murder. If they don't die, we are looking at culpable negligence. It would be no different if you gave someone bleach or something like that that would clearly do something bad to you," Walsh stated.

Like much of the country, heroin continues to be a problem in Sarasota.  The first month of this year, there were 16 overdoses -- five were fatal. 

A year ago, the same month saw only four overdoses and one death.

Detectives are trying everything they can think of to prevent the next one.

"What we are just trying to do here is just stop the next overdose or death. If we can identify the dealer and arrest them, that saved at least one other person's life," Walsh added.

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