Federal, State Authorities Ramp Up Fentanyl Enforcement
Both federal and Pennsylvania state law enforcement officials are more aggressively prosecuting drug crimes involving fentanyl, even going so far as to use statutes that had rarely been cited over the past few decades. In some cases, they are treating overdose deaths as homicides and are seizing larger quantities of the drugs and issuing conspiracy charges to foreign nationals.
The main reason for this sudden ramping up of enforcement is the increase in opioid overdoses in Pennsylvania and across the nation. More than 42,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, fentanyl was responsible for almost half of those deaths.
Now, law enforcement agencies are doing everything they can to reduce the availability of the drug, which is typically shipped in from China and Mexico. The difficult thing about enforcing fentanyl use is that it is often mixed into other drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, and can occasionally be pressed into counterfeit prescription pills.
Despite these challenges, the U.S. Department of Justice tripled its fentanyl prosecutions in 2017. There were 267 people charged by federal prosecutors with fentanyl-related crimes in 2017 — compared to just 74 in 2016.
A local effect
Pennsylvania is one of the states that has been hit hardest by the opioid crisis, and the state has increased its enforcement, as well. In York County alone, prosecutors charged 45 people with drug delivery resulting in death in fentanyl-related crimes in the last three years. That’s a first-degree felony.
Anyone who has been charged with a drug-related offense has a right to fair, competent legal defense. In this age of increased enforcement and harsher penalties, it is more important than ever to have an attorney who fully explores your legal options.
For more information on the defense strategies you might use to protect your constitutional rights, work with a trusted Reading criminal defense lawyer at David R. Eshelman: A Professional Corporation.