Bill to increase sentencing for Fentanyl trafficking introduced by U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn introduced a bill with her colleagues to increase sentencing for people who traffick Fentanyl.
Sen. Blackburn said the legislation she introduced with her colleagues would reduce the amount of Fentanyl drug traffickers and dealers would have to be caught with for mandatory sentencing.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug used to treat extreme pain, according to health officials.
Detective Marty Dunn with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office said Fentanyl is a problem in Hamilton County.
He said some people who are getting drugs off the street don't even know they're taking Fentanyl.
"What we're seeing that it's being compressed into tablets which is a counterfeit controlled substance, pills that look like a Xanax tablet and it's not Xanax, it's Fentanyl pills," Dunn said. "We've had several overdoses of someone that thinks their scoring a particular pharmacy drug that they got off the street for it to be Fentanyl."
Dunn said there have been 168 overdoses and 103 have been related to Heroin while 26 have been related to Fentanyl in 2019 so far.
It's a drug health officials say is 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine.
"It takes such a small amount for it to be such a dangerous product," Dunn said.
He said most of the Fentanyl they are seeing in Hamilton County is mailed in from China or brought in from Mexico.
In 2017, health officials say 500 people died in Tennessee from overdoses related to Fentanyl.
"Our local law enforcement, when you talk to them about dealing with drugs on the street and what they're seeing on the street, Fentanyl is the number one that they are seeing and it's very deadly," Blackburn said.
She said this legislation would create harsher sentences.
"For example, instead of 400 grams of Fentanyl to trigger 10 years in prison, it now only takes 20 grams to trigger the ten-year minimum and this is because of the deadly nature of Fentanyl," Blackburn said.
It's a step Dunn thinks could help with the opioid epidemic in Hamilton County.
"If you take the people that are smuggling this in and you put them away and lock them away and don't turn them right back out, it's going to put the message out on the street that this is one product that we don't want to be about," Dunn said. "It's dangerous. It's killing people."
Blackburn said this is just one of several steps that need to be taken to stop the opioid crisis. She said the southern border needs to be secured as well.
She said she was on the southern border Friday when border patrol agents stopped 5 kilos of Fentanyl from entering the United States.
Blackburn said the legislation will now be sent off to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review.