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SPD explains why it took months to arrest man accused of selling fentanyl laced pills

The 31-year-old man sold blue “Mexi pills” to undercover detectives four times in September, however, he wasn't arrested until his daughter's overdose, documents say

SPOKANE, Wash. — A 17-month old girl has become the latest victim of the highly addictive and dangerous drug, fentanyl.

“There’s no other words to describe it other than tragic,” Cpl. Nick Briggs of the Spokane Police Department said. “That’s the most innocent form of life we have.”

The girl’s father, 31-year-old Frank Marusic, has been charged with her death. According to court documents, Marusic sold blue “Mexi pills” to undercover detectives four times in September, however, he was not arrested. KREM 2 asked Spokane police why.

“The likelihood that he would have been in custody for a matter of hours is extremely low.” Briggs said. “There’s no way he would have been held for longer than that.”

Briggs said police are desperate to get the deadly pills off the street but with new state laws on controlled substances, that’s easier said than done.

“People are not going to jail for simple possession right now. It is not something law enforcement can arrest on in the city of Spokane," Briggs said. "We are going to follow what the courts say and what the legislature says, so right now I have no problem saying that it has never been harder to do drug investigations than it is right now for law enforcement."

Law enforcement officers have to be strategic. Briggs said low-level dealers can lead to an even bigger bust.

“The way that we can get the largest quantity off the street is through an in depth investigation where we figure out the network," Briggs said. " If we've got information and can get 10 pills off the streets versus tens of thousands, the community is better off if we get tens of thousands of pills off the street.”

Due to the complexity, Briggs said it’s not uncommon for drug investigations to take several months, and sometimes they get paused because violent crime investigations always get top priority.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, roughly one in four counterfeit opioid pills have some amount of fentanyl.

"If we are going to have this conversation about how to deal with drugs and drug addiction in our community, we have to realize that it is not a victimless crime and it's not an easy problem to solve," Briggs said. "If it was, we would have solved it a long time ago."

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