Families of opiate overdose victims seek tougher sentences for dealers

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Part of the battle against heroin is stopping the dealers who are supplying addicts with the dangerous drug. So people committed to getting tougher sentences for those dealers showed up at the Summit County Courthouse on Friday to have their voices heard.

It was sentencing day for the dealer responsible for the death of at least one heroin addict in Summit County, 31-year-old Sheena Moore. Her family was outside the courthouse to fight for her and other victims they say are out there.

"I've told Sheena's story many times, but this is by far the hardest, what I'm going through today," said her mother, Brenda Ryan.

Ryan stood with signs in front of the Summit County Courthouse ahead of the sentencing of Moore's dealer, Derrick Sales. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, drug trafficking and weapons charges. The drugs that killed Sheena were tracked to Sales.

He plead guilty and was sentenced to eight years.

"Four to five years ago these dealers were not being charged at all, so I guess I'm happy with that. But we need to fight harder. We need to put these dealers behind bars longer," Ryan said.

Tugg Massa, of Akron Say No to Dope, said though she's glad he's being held accountable, it's unclear how many other lives have been taken by his hands.

Ryan, along with other members of Akron Say No to Dope, are taking their fight to the state, testifying in favor of Ohio Senate Bill 1, which would target individuals like Sales, lowering the amount of fentanyl needed for higher level felony convictions.

"More people need to be held accountable for their actions. I think that a stiffer penalty should be imposed on people selling death," said Massa.

That legislation has already passed the Senate and is now in the hands of the House. It's specifically targeting the carfentanil and fentanyl coming from China. If it passes, the higher level felony convictions will carry longer mandatory jail sentences, and offer a balance by not imprisoning addicts.

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