Chatham Sheriff announces arrest in Death by Distribution case

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Chatham County Sheriff’s Office deputies have arrested Samantha Caroline Biehl, 38, of 2527 Buffalo Church Road, Apt. 7D, in Sanford, following the death of a 38-year-old Siler City resident. Biehl is accused of illegally selling fentanyl pills to the victim, contributing to the victim’s fatal overdose in March 2021. 

The crime falls under North Carolina’s “Death by Distribution” Act, which first took effect on December 1, 2019. N.C. Governor Roy Cooper signed the Act (NCGS §14-18.4) into law in response to the increasing number of deaths related to the opioid epidemic. The law allows for the prosecution of individuals who sell drugs to buyers who later overdose as a result of using those controlled substances. 

“Death by distribution cases can be incredibly difficult to prove or prosecute, making it even more essential for authorities to conduct thorough investigations and follow all leads,” explains Sheriff’s Office Captain Ronnie Miller. “Acquiring autopsy and toxicology reports, conducting evidence testing, holding interviews, obtaining search warrants, reviewing phone and internet records, and so on — each phase of the process takes time, manpower, and resources from multiple agencies. Without teamwork and persistence, this outcome would not have been possible.”

In Biehl’s case, the Sheriff’s Office reached out to the Siler City Police Department to gather information and explore available leads ahead of the arrest. Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson says taking a suspect into custody is only one step along the path to justice for surviving family members.

“We cannot arrest our way out of the crisis and we can’t end addiction overnight. No arrest can restore the life that was lost, but it is our hope that further deaths can be prevented through appropriate intervention and partnership with the community,” says Roberson, who emphasizes the importance of working together toward shared goals to combat opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose. “We all have a responsibility to raise awareness and talk with our family members and friends about what addiction looks like and how to prevent it. We all have a choice to fight for the future and health of our county, not just in words, but through our actions.”

Roberson made his stance against opioids clear when he co-founded the Sheriff’s Prevention Partnership on Controlled Substances (SPPCS) with former Public Health Department Director Layton Long in 2017. The SPPCS is a collaborative effort among multiple agencies to provide a comprehensive approach to addiction, featuring stakeholders and representatives from various professional and personal backgrounds. Law enforcement and first responders, health officials, medical professionals, educators, mental health service providers, counselors, survivors, and individuals in recovery all joined forces to formulate a plan; the group continues to work together to implement life-saving measures across Chatham County. Notably, the SPPCS is responsible for supplying all first responders in Chatham County with the life-saving opioid overdose-reversal drug Narcan, which to date has saved over 106 lives in Chatham County.

“Residents can play a powerful role in deterring drug abuse in their communities. It’s important to recognize the warning signs when a friend or family member is struggling, and be brave enough to point them toward available resources,” says Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Sara Pack. “But the most courageous decision you make today may be calling 911 to report their dealer and provide evidence to help put them behind bars.” 

Biehl is currently charged with felony death by distribution, felony selling/delivering a Schedule II controlled substance, felony possession with intent to sell/deliver a Schedule II controlled substance, felony possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. She was assigned a $275,000 secured bond and is due to appear in Chatham County District Court in Pittsboro on August 31. 

The investigation into the case is ongoing.

Roberson says the Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate criminal activity and arrest those found responsible for breaking the law. Anyone with information or who suspects criminal activity in their area should call 911 as soon as possible to share that knowledge with investigators. 

sheriff, death by distribution, Chatham County Sheriff, Mike Roberson, Samantha Biehl

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