Columbus man pleads guilty to dealing lethal heroin mix

A Columbus man will spend up to 20 years in prison for selling batches of heroin that killed one person and caused serious injury to another last year.

Richard R. Edwards, 28, of Columbus, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to distributing heroin and fentanyl that resulted in the death of a Columbus woman in December of 2016 and led to a non-fatal overdose of a Columbus man months earlier in August. Edwards was arrested in March and has remained in custody since.

“A fatal dose of fentanyl can fit inside the tip a finger nail, making it the deadliest chemical substance that we have to contend within the law enforcement community,” said Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge with Homeland Security Investigations. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates our unrelenting resolve to bring to justice those responsible for distributing this lethal poison in our communities.”

Special Agent Francis worked in correlation with the Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education Task Force, which was created as a restructuring of the Franklin County Drug Task Force. Experienced narcotics and homicide detectives working on the HOPE Task Force are treating opiate overdose scenes as crime scenes; investigating the source of the supply that caused the overdose. This case represents the first federal prosecution of a “death-resulting” case in Columbus that stemmed from a joint investigation with the HOPE Task Force.

“This case is another example of the collaborative effort between all agencies working together in the prosecution of criminals selling drugs on the streets that are killing people,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. “We will continue to stand united against this kind of criminal conduct that continues to destroy lives on a daily basis.”

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