The opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc across the nation despite increased efforts to control the situation. In one more desperate attempt to prevent overdose deaths, a crackdown on opioid dealers is in the works. If a person dies from an overdose, the dealer who sold the drugs will be charged with homicide and can spend up to 20 years or more in prison. Federal prosecutors are confident that this measure will have a positive effect on the growing fentanyl overdose deaths.
In 2016, drug overdoses caused the deaths of more than 64,000 Americans, and the number continues to rise. Over 20,000 of those deaths were attributed to fentanyl, and about 15,000 were attributed to heroin. In the past, these deaths were approached by law enforcement as accidental or as “death by misadventure.” Today, however, a paradigm shift is underway. Because of the increased use of fentanyl by profit-hungry dealers, overdoses are skyrocketing.
How the Crackdown on Opioid Dealers Works
The Feds are focused on eliminating the root of the problem, unscrupulous dealers. But, it will be difficult to prove the exact cause of death in some cases. This is especially true when the deceased was a poly-substance abuser. These individuals were likely suffering overall poor health due to the many drugs in their system, making them more susceptible to disease or death.
Many states have a variety of legal standards for identifying the cause of death. These standards can include “direct result,” “caused by,” “results from,” or “caused by.” Each of these standards has its legal ramifications. Although the legal process can make the crackdown on opioid dealers more difficult, it is worth the effort. When a dealer knowingly sells a person fentanyl-laced opioids or heroin, he deliberately puts that person’s life in danger.
Why are Dealers Using Fentanyl so Abundantly?
According to the CDC, fentanyl and other opioids caused more than 27,000 deaths in 2017. This number is an increase over the 20,000 deaths in 2016. These deaths occur because many of the victims are unaware that fentanyl is present in the substance they purchase.
Fentanyl is classified by the DEA as a Schedule II drug. This classification means the drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is cheaper and more readily available than many other substances, making it a money-maker for dealers.
To get a different perspective on the need for a strong crackdown on opioid dealers, take a look at these numbers:
- Inspectors at a Philadelphia port confiscated $1.7 million worth of fentanyl that had shipped from China to the US.
- In 2016, officers seized 440 pounds of fentanyl nationwide.
- In 2017, more than 951 pounds of fentanyl were seized by federal agents nationwide.
- American heroin addicts have increased 500 percent in the past decade.
- Nearly half of all opioid-related deaths in 2016 involved fentanyl, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
It’s not difficult to see that the fentanyl problem is on the rise. Lack of awareness about the potential dangers of fentanyl is one of the contributing factors. Devious dealers are also a big part of the problem. As a nation, each of us is affected in some way by substance-related crime and activity. With the shocking number of needless deaths continuing to rise, we welcome any efforts to put an end to the problem.
Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Can Help You Overcome Opioid Addiction
At BRS, our experts have years of experience in working with addicts. Recent graduates of our program are sharing their success stories with the public to be part of the solution to addiction. Our comprehensive program is designed to address each contributing aspect of addiction to ensure a lasting recovery. Learn more about how we can help you or a loved one by contacting us today. While we hope the crackdown on opioid dealers will have an impact on saving lives, we will continue to do our part by helping our clients successfully recovery from opioid abuse or addiction.