This article was originally featured on VICE Canada.
For the first time, police in Edmonton have charged a 25-year-old man with manslaughter in the death of another man who overdosed on fentanyl earlier this year.
As the opioid overdose rate continues to rise across Canada, and in Alberta especially, it's one of the few times police have taken this type of action against a suspected drug supplier.
Staff Sgt. Dave Monson announced Wednesday that following an "extensive investigation," Jordan Yarmey is alleged to have supplied 33-year-old Szymon Kalich with the drug that's around 50 times more potent than heroin.
Officers were called to a home in the southeast part of the city one afternoon this January in response to reports of a body lying in the hallway, Monson explained.
Toxicology tests later confirmed that fentanyl was the cause of Kalich's death.
Monson said the charge should send a message to anyone selling illicit substances.
Yarmey will appear in an Edmonton court on Thursday.
In March, Bobby Weasel Head, a member of the Blood Tribe in Alberta, was charged with manslaughter after he allegedly sold fentanyl to a couple who later died of an overdose last year, leaving four children behind. That charge was believed to be the first of its kind involving fentanyl.
Overall, though, it's rare for manslaughter charges to be laid against drug dealers.
"If you can prove that they knew they were trafficking fentanyl, and if a reasonable person at that time would know that fentanyl is likely to ... cause bodily harm, I think you can convict them of manslaughter," Peter Sankoff, a law professor at the University of Alberta, told the Calgary Herald earlier this year in response to Head's case.
In 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the manslaughter conviction of a man who injected a lethal dose of cocaine into a woman's arm with her consent.
Last week, health experts and law enforcement gathered in Calgary for a conference dedicated to combating the crisis involving bootleg fentanyl. The provincial NDP government has been facing mounting pressure to declare a state of emergency over the matter, like the province of British Columbia did earlier this year.
In the first six months of this year, there were 153 deaths in Alberta linked to fentanyl, a jump from 139 deaths the same time the year before. In 2015, the province saw a total of 274 fentanyl overdose deaths.
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