In a rare case for West Virginia, two men from the Mountain State are under federal indictment on charges of supplying heroin to a 22-year-old man who died of an overdose.
Curtis Adams and Justin Withers, both 28 and from Wellsburg, W.Va., are charged with heroin distribution that led to the death of a Follansbee, W.Va., man in March 2011.
Both face possible life terms in prison.
The U.S. attorney's office in Wheeling said the men traveled to Steubenville, Ohio, on March 22 to obtain the heroin and then sold it to the victim in nearby Follansbee in exchange for jewelry and gold.
The indictment identifies the man only by his initials, JMH.
U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said in a statement that the Northern Panhandle of his state has seen an "extraordinary number" of overdose deaths in the past few years.
"Whenever we can prove who provided the drugs that caused a drug overdose, then we're going to be very aggressive in prosecuting those who are responsible," he said.
Mr. Adams, who has been released on bond, and Mr. Withers, who is in state custody in an unrelated case, will appear in U.S. District Court for arraignment Thursday.
The prosecutor's office could not recall a similar case in the northern district of West Virginia.
The charge is uncommon in Western Pennsylvania, too. The first time the statute was used here was in 2002, when federal prosecutors charged two Duquesne brothers, Charles and Ondre Jones, in the 2000 overdose death of Carla Burchell in McKeesport.
Police and federal agents said she died after a night of using heroin with friends at a McKeesport apartment.
Detectives said Charles, now 34, and Ondre, 32, supplied the heroin and witnessed the overdose, then buried Burchell's body behind their mother's house.
Both brothers pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court and are serving 20-year prison terms.