Justice Department sends Ky. another prosecutor to fight fentanyl, orders charges to be brought regardless of quantity

Kentucky is one of the states that will get an extra federal prosecutor to fight the spread of fentanyl, a powerful opioid blamed for an increasing number of overdoses.

As part of the fight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Departmentprosecutors in Kentucky and other 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,” reports Sari Horwitz of The Washington Post.

Horwitz notes, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016, a figure driven by a dramatic surge in deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.” In Kentucky that year, almost half (623) of the 1,404 overdose deaths involved fentanyl, which “is often mixed into heroin or cocaine,” Horwitz notes. “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, according to the Justice Department.”
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