U.S. cracking down on fentanyl dealers
Attorney CONCORD, N.H — General Jeff Sessions on Thursday ordered federal prosecutors in 10 areas that have been especially hard-hit by overdose deaths from fentanyl to bring drug charges against anyone suspected of dealing the synthetic opioid, regardless of quantity.
An additional prosecutor will also be sent to each of the designated areas in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maine, California and Pennsylvania as well as in New Hampshire, Sessions said.
“Fentanyl is a killer drug,” Sessions said as he flew to New Hampshire to meet with state and local law enforcement officials about the fentanyl crisis. “Fentanyl is so powerful that the slightest error in how much you take can go from this extremely pleasurable feeling to death.”
“Having a prosecutor solely dedicated to working these fentanyl cases is going to be a huge, enormous benefit to us here,” said Brian Boyle, special agent in charge of the New England Field Division, who described the fentanyl problem as “scary.”
“The amount of fentanyl we’re seeing is affecting everybody, all walks of life, all communities,” Boyle said. “You’re seeing it in rural areas, urban areas, big cities, middle-of-nowhere areas in New England.”
Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is often mixed into heroin or cocaine. It is 50 times more powerful than heroin, 100 times more powerful than morphine and can kill a user almost instantly.
Dealers also press fentanyl into counterfeit pills sold on the street. Most illicit fentanyl comes into the United States through the mail or express shipping systems or is brought across the southwest border..
Sessions’s fentanyl crackdown is the latest step he is taking to combat its use. The department has tripled fentanyl prosecutions across the country and brought the first cases charging Chinese nationals with selling the drug to Americans.
Allison Herens (right), a harm-reduction coordinator for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, talks last month with Victor Martinez about the number of recent fentanyl overdoses in West Philadelphia.