U.S. crack­ing down on fen­tanyl deal­ers

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Sari Hor­witz

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.

JES­SICA GRIF­FIN / PHILADEL­PHIA IN­QUIRER

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.

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