Portland/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 18, 2024
Multnomah County DA's Office Leveraging New Oregon Law to Clamp Down on Suspected Drug DealersSource: Unsplash/ Thought Catalog

Drug dealers in Multnomah County are feeling the heat as prosecutors start to aggressively charge under the newly effective provisions of House Bill 4002. As of April 1, Oregon law enforcement regained the upper hand due to these provisions, which allow them to charge individuals with intent to distribute, even if a buyer hasn't been caught in the net. Multnomah County District Attorney's office was quick to put the law into action, pushing charges against those found with large quantities of drugs and suspected of dealing.

The move to reenact portions of the drug distribution law was propelled by a significant ruling in 2021's State v. Hubbell, where a technicality basically disarmed prosecutors. To successfully nail a suspect for drug delivery, they were previously forced to catch them red-handed. The aftermath was a marked drop in distribution cases, leaving many dealers to slip through with minor possession charges. The new legal muscle, already responsible for approximately a quarter of April's drug cases, aims to remedy this loophole.

According to the Multnomah County DA's office news release, DA Mike Schmidt didn’t hold back his approval, stating, “I am pleased that lawmakers share my concern that the dealers of deadly substances like fentanyl need to be held fully accountable under the law. The restoration of constructive delivery is making it easier for my office to prosecute the dealers that are driving addiction on the streets of Portland and throughout Oregon.”

With the tidal change in legislation, Multnomah County prosecutors are looking to toss the net wider and pull those responsible for drug circulation to shore. Critics of the old law argued that, without the ability to charge based on constructive delivery, many high-volume dealers continued to peddle death unchecked. It appears that the new law is set to closely police these murky waters. Schmidt's stance reflects a tough narrative that aims to strategically cut off supply lines and stem the tide of drugs in the communities they are ravaging.