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DIGGING DEEPER: Mom turns grief into action

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TUCSON (KVOA) - More and more drug dealers who cause the death of a person who overdosed are being charged with their death.

It happened recently when a 25-year-old Phoenix man who was in Tucson visiting a childhood friend accidentally overdosed.

The victim's mother is turning her grief into action.

The Digging Team uncovered a seven-count indictment that charged Brendin Malcolm Lopez-Raygoza and Brady William Webber-Graff with selling drugs and manslaughter.

The document stated, "On or about the 18th day of May, 2020, Brendin Malcolm Lopez-Raygoza and Brady William Webber-Graff recklessly caused the death of Landon Marsh."

Two days earlier, "Raygoza and Webber Graff unlawfully sold a narcotic drug fentanyl pills, heroin and cocaine."

The Counter Narcotics Alliance, a multi-agency drug task force investigates overdose deaths.

"Fentanyl was a leading contributor to the overdose death problem that we have, " Tucson Police Captain John Leavitt, commander for CNA said.

He said last year, there were over 450 overdose deaths. More than half were attributed to fentanyl.

Landon Marsh, 25, was among those who died.

Leavitt would not discuss that case, but he did talk about the fentanyl pills.

"M-30's, the blue pills that everyone is taking, what is killing them are fentanyl," he said. "That's what they are."

On Monday at the State Capitol, the House of Representatives will be voting on Senate Bill 1486.

A bill Senator Christine Marsh authored.

She spoke earlier this year to our sister station KPNX 12 News.

"My connection is very close to this bill I'm running to try and save some lives," said.

She has been very open about her son's death. The legislation is to legalize fentanyl test strips.

Haley Coles is with Sonoran Prevention Works.

"Some very smart people who use drugs in other parts of the country were able to determine they could test the drug themselves," Coles said.

Capt. Leavitt reacted to the proposed legislation.

"The provision of those test strips is a harm reduction method," he said. "I suppose will do someone some good. It's just not something I think will be as effective as some people think it will be. "

Senator Marsh said her son, "He would want me to do everything possible to help others."

Leavitt also wants to help. He has a message for people who deal drugs.

"If you deal drugs in Pima County and this region, we're going to try you for it if we can," he said. "And we're going to put you in prison for it."

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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