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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Attorney General Mike Hunter today amended drug distribution conspiracy charges to add six counts of first-degree murder on three individuals in connection with a fentanyl distribution operation that claimed at least two lives.

The additional charges come as the medical examiner determined the two victim deaths were caused by fentanyl overdoses.

In July, David Williams, Jr., Clarence Merrell, Carlos Scruggs and Isidro Hernandez were originally charged with crimes related to the alleged drug-dealing operation. Only three have been charged with two-counts of first-degree murder because Merrell died while in the Oklahoma County jail.

“Now that we know for certain these victims died because of the drugs provided by the defendants, we have charged them appropriately,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Dismantling deadly drug distribution operations that are threatening the lives of Oklahomans is an important part of our core mission in public safety. Hopefully, these murder charges send a clear message we are aggressively pursuing those who sell drugs that cause a person’s death. I appreciate the dedication of our law enforcement partners who assisted with this case.”

Officials with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) aided in the investigation.

During the investigation, authorities seized over 700 counterfeit Oxycodone pills that tested positive for fentanyl, numerous guns and over $16,000 in cash that defendants allegedly derived from drug transactions.

Fentanyl is up to 1,000 times more potent than morphine.

Under Oklahoma law, a person commits the crime of murder in the first degree, regardless of malice, when that person or any other person takes the life of a human being, or if the death of a human being results from the unlawful distribution of controlled dangerous substance or synthetic controlled substance.

Attorney General Hunter originally authored the bill in 1989 while serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.