Criminal charges filed in drug overdose death of Berks man

Suspect facing up to 40 years in prison

READING, Pa. - A few cell phone text messages are what landed 31-year-old Rashine Mitchell behind bars.

"[The] second text message read, 'Yo, I need that soda and lean bro when you going to bring it?'" said Berks County District Attorney John Adams as he read pieces of a text message conversation between Mitchell and the victim. "This was interpreted as likely to mean lean, as in narcotic liquid syrup."

After authorities saw the messages on a Spring Township man's phone after he overdosed and died from ingesting heroin and fentanyl on May 20, they said they contacted Mitchell to buy drugs in Lancaster County.

"Once the heroin was sold to the undercover, the subject was taken into custody," Adams said.

Mitchell has been in the Lancaster County Prison since then, and now authorities are slapping him with a much more serious charge.

"Mr. Rashine is being charged with drug delivery resulting in death, can receive a penalty up to 40 years incarceration," said Adams.

Authorities said fentanyl-related deaths are on a dangerous upward trend. In 2015, 21 percent of overdose deaths in Berks County involved fentanyl. A year later, that percentage jumped to 46 percent, and already this year, that percentage is at 65 percent.

"It is a trend, and we don't understand why it's a trend because we are trying to get this information out that it is very dangerous," said Berks County Coroner Dennis Hess.

The DA plans to take the problem to state lawmakers

"We will be asking and requesting increased sentences for those individuals who are selling controlled substances which contain fentanyl," he said.

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