February 23 2016

New Law Targets Traffickers of Synthetic Opioid Fentanyl

By: Rich Hosford

A new law trying to stem the growing tide of opioid overdoses went into effect on Tuesday. 


Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that trafficking the drug fentanyl is now a felony. Under the new law anyone found trafficking in fentanyl in amounts greater than 10 grams can face up to 20 years in state prison.


Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, a release from the Attorney General’s office states. 


“Fentanyl is claiming the lives of people across our state. This new law gives law enforcement the tools they need to prosecute those who traffic this dangerous drug,” Healey said. “More and more, law enforcement is finding heroin laced with this powerful synthetic opioid or being sold in its pure form. This new law will help us combat trafficking and help keep communities safe.”


According to the release, predatory drug traffickers frequently mix fentanyl with heroin, often without the knowledge of the buyer. It can be deadly even in very low doses.


Recently, Massachusetts law enforcement has seen a significant increase in overdoses and deaths from the use of fentanyl, the release states. According to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System, state and local laboratories reported 3,344 fentanyl submissions in 2014, up from 942 in 2013.


Until now, drug traffickers could only be charged with the lesser crimes of manufacturing, distributing or possessing fentanyl, regardless of the quantity of the drug they were caught with.

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