Anyone who possesses, imports, distributes, or manufactures any illicit fentanyl analogue will now be subject to criminal prosecution similar to other controlled substances. The announcement comes from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and will give the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) the ability to take immediate action to stop illicit fentanyl from coming into the US.
Scheduling of all illicit fentanyl analogues will go into effect 30 days after the DEA publishes its notice of intent. The DOJ said the change will make it easier for federal prosecutors and agents to prosecute traffickers.
“Overseas chemical manufacturers, aided by illicit domestic distributors, currently attempt to evade regulatory controls by creating structural variants of fentanyl that are not directly listed under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA),” explained the DOJ in a press release.
In the current situation, prosecutors need to overcome ‘evidentiary hurdles’ to get convictions for traffickers of illicit fentanyls, the bulk of which come through mail or shipping systems or are imported across the southwest border. “Today’s action represents just one step in the ongoing fight to battle the opioid epidemic,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “By scheduling all fentanyls, we empower our law enforcement officers and prosecutors to take swift and necessary action against those spreading these deadly poisons.”
This announcement comes after the declaration of a public health emergency regarding the opioid epidemic 2 weeks ago.
Department of Justice announces significant tool in prosecuting opioid traffickers in emergency scheduling of all fentanyls [press release]. Washington, DC; DOJ: November 9th, 2017. Accessed November 21, 2017.
This article originally appeared on MPR