Federal case against two alleged drug dealers heading to jury

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Closing arguments are wrapping up in the federal case against two alleged heroin and fentanyl dealers prosecutors say are behind a dozen overdoses in Sioux Falls and several deaths.

A federal agent testified that Maurice Cathey and Corrod Phillips made nearly 400 calls and texts to each other in just nine days in February of 2018. They also matched the phone records of people who testified that they got heroin from the men.

Phillips’ attorney is trying to prove that because several overdose victims had other drugs in their system, it is impossible to prove the heroin caused them to overdose, even though they were revived with Narcan, which only reverses the effects of opioid drugs.

The federal agent testified that the area saw a spike in overdoses between the end of 2017 and well into 2018.

The DEA’s investigation of those overdoses led to the charges against Cathey and Phillips.

Investigators say they were part of a group running a heroin and crack cocaine operation out of a home on North Sherman Avenue. In addition to drugs, authorities say they also found drug paraphernalia and kitchen drawers stuffed with cash.

Several witnesses testified that the two Chicago men were their source of heroin in Sioux Falls. Those users believed they were only buying heroin, but as in the case of Emily Groth of Sioux Falls and Layne Diaz, of Watertown, the heroin that killed them was laced with fentanyl.

The case is expected to go to the jury Wednesday evening.

If found guilty, Cathey is facing up to life in prison, while Phillips could get a minimum of 20 years.

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