Fugitive Charged With Selling Heroin That Caused A Death In Custody
BIRMINGHAM -- A Birmingham man and federal fugitive charged in connection with a 2013 heroin overdose death in Tuscaloosa was arrested this month in Atlanta and arraigned today in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay A. Morris.
PATROPIUS FOSTER, 34, had been a fugitive since a law enforcement roundup aimed at heroin dealers in north Alabama in September. Foster is the last defendant to be arrested among 49 people indicted in 2013 as part of an ongoing initiative between law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney's Office to attack the supply side of the spiraling heroin problem.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. Ott arraigned Foster on the charges against him and ordered he remain in custody pending trial.
The charges include that Foster distributed heroin on March 19, 2013, that resulted in the death of a 20-year-old University of Alabama student the following day. The charge of distributing heroin that results in a death carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office is fighting the growing availability of heroin and alerting the community that the problem is here and growing ever more deadly," Vance said. "The rising use of heroin is a public health crisis. It ruins lives and is killing our children. My office prosecutes heroin dealers. Those who sell heroin that causes a death are looking at a mandatory 20-year sentence in federal prison," she said.
Another Birmingham man arrested in the September roundup also was charged with selling heroin that resulted in a death. Harold Donnell Mims, 31, pleaded guilty in February to selling heroin that caused the death of a 28-year-old Tuscaloosa resident. Mims is scheduled for sentencing May 27.
The two overdose deaths Foster and Mims are charged with causing occurred at the same Tuscaloosa apartment complex within the span of one month in 2013.
As of today, 39 of the 49 people indicted in the 2013 sweep have pled guilty and 36 have been sentenced. The sentences have ranged from probation for first-time offenders to 12 1/2 years for the dealers who qualify as career offenders under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Law enforcement agencies working with DEA in the months-long investigation leading to the 2013 indictments and arrests included the Hoover, Pelham, Gardendale, Vestavia Hills, Tuscaloosa, Hueytown, Bessemer and Pleasant Grove police departments, Marshall County Drug Task Force, Gulf Coast HIDTA Task Force, Alabama Beverage Control Board, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Jefferson and Shelby County sheriff's offices, and district attorney's offices for Jefferson, Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties and the Bessemer Cutoff. Assistant U.S. Attorney L. James Weil Jr. is prosecuting the cases.
The public is reminded that an indictment contain only charges. Defendants are presumed innocent and it is the government's responsibility to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.