(WAFB) - The Department of Justice announced Thursday, November 9 that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will be taking immediate action against the illegal flow of fentanyl analogues into the country and the alarming increase in deaths linked synthetic opioids. The DEA intends to do this by scheduling all fentanyl-related substances on an emergency basis.
When the DEA's new order takes effect, anyone who possess, imports, distributes, or manufactures any illicit fentanyl analogue will be subject to criminal prosecution in the same manner as for fentanyl and other illegal drugs. This new order will make it easier for the federal government to prosecute drug traffickers.
"President Trump has made it a cornerstone of his presidency to combat the deadly drug crisis in America, and today, the Department of Justice is taking an important step toward halting the rising death toll caused by illicit fentanyls in the United States. By scheduling all fentanyls, we empower our law enforcement officers and prosecutors to take swift and necessary action against those spreading these deadly poisons. I also urge the many member of Congress who clearly share our concern and alarm over fentanyl's role in our opioid overdose epidemic to do their part by permanently scheduling these lethal substances," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Most of the illegal fentanyl arrives in the U.S. through the mail or other express shipping systems, or are imported across the country's southwest border. Chemical manufacturers overseas, with the assistance of domestic distributors, try to evade regulations by creating variants of fentanyl that are not specifically listed under the Controlled Substances Act.
The DEA's action aims to minimize the potential harm these fentanyl substances with no medical or industrial use cause. The action will also facilitate criminal, civil, and administrative actions against anyone trafficking fentanyl variants. The temporary scheduling will go into effect no earlier than 30 days after the DEA publishes its official notice and will last up to two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension if certain conditions are met.
"Today's action represents just one step in the ongoing fight to battle the opioid epidemic. DEA is committed to using all of its tools to aggressively fight and address the opioid crisis and growing fentanyl problem plaguing the United States," said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson.
This action is the latest step in a series of aggressive moves by Sessions and the Department of Justice to stem the opioid epidemic plaguing the country.