Federal courthouse in Asheville
The federal courthouse in Asheville seen from its south entrance. Carolina Public Press file photo

A federal grand jury has indicted a woman for allegedly dealing fentanyl that led to a fatal overdose, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western North Carolina announced Monday.

Shannon White, 42, was arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Swain County Sheriff’s Office, then made her first court appearance in Asheville on Monday. A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte had returned a criminal indictment against her on Thursday.

The grand jury’s bill of indictment alleges that White on Jan. 28, 2019, “did knowingly distribute a mixture or substance containing fentanyl … which resulted in the death of a victim.”

The indictment did not name the overdose victim but referred to the person as “J.F.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office statement released Monday also did not identify the locations where the alleged fentanyl transaction occurred or where the overdose took place.

If convicted, White would face a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in federal prison, with a maximum term of life imprisonment, and a $1 million fine.

Danger of fentanyl

Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, has recently drawn attention to concerns about the prevalence of fentanyl and the danger it poses.

In a joint statement with other U.S. attorneys in North Carolina and South Carolina, Murray called on Congress to enact a permanent ban on fentanyl and its analogues. Currently, the substances are subject to a congressional extension of a DEA ban, which is set to expire in May 2021.

“While I am thankful that Congress extended the temporary ban on fentanyl and fentanyl-like analogues, I join law enforcement and prosecutors across the nation in calling for action to permanently outlaw this deadly substance and all its derivatives,” Murray said.

“Temporary bans are the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound. We need a permanent fix. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues kill people and devastate communities. These drugs belong in the same legal category as heroin and other deadly substances.”

Clarification: As published initially, this article included additional information that the U.S. Attorney’s Office provided without clear context. After further discussions with a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Carolina Public Press has removed some of this information, which does not appear to be relevant.

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