Thousands of people die every year from fentanyl-related overdoses, and that number is only climbing as the drug continues to find its way onto our streets. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were 18,893 deadly overdoses caused by painkillers in 2014, and fentanyl is a major reason for the record highs.
Fentanyl can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, but is vastly cheaper and easier to produce. While the drug or its chemical components make their way into the U.S through Mexico, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) believes that the primary source for the products is China. As recently as last spring, 70 kilograms of fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl was found hidden inside a Mexico-bound cargo container by Chinese customs agents. The drugs they discovered were so potent that simply handling them caused six of the agents to fall ill, one of whom fell into a coma.
These seizures are only becoming more common as law enforcement continues to crack down on the distribution and sale of fentanyl. Forensic labs reported 13,001 seizures of fentanyl in 2015, compared to under 6,000 seizures in 2014, and approximately 1,000 in 2013. Those numbers should continue to increase as lawmakers continue to create legislation geared towards increasing the criminal penalties for possessing or selling fentanyl.
Last year, Senate Bill 237 (SB 237) was introduced to the state senate. This proposed bill would reduce the amount of fentanyl someone would need to be in possession of in order to be considered a “bulk amount” under Ohio’s drug offense laws. Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley), the primary sponsor of the bill, spoke to the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee on January 30, 2016 about the proposed.
“This is part of our ongoing response to the issue that we're dealing with in this state as it relates to opiate abuse. If abuse of opioids is deadly, and it is, then when that is mixed with a product called fentanyl, it's even worse. This is something that has begun to show up in our communities throughout the state and has deadly results.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, there were almost 2,500 deaths caused by overdoses in 2014, an increase of 18 percent from 2013. SB 237 has yet to be voted on, but if it ends up being passed, it will have a dramatic effect on how people could be charged if they are caught in possession of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced products.
If you have been charged with a serious crime in Ohio, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced and qualified criminal defense firm. Koffel Brininger Nesbitt is one of the leading privately retained criminal law firms in Ohio, and our Columbus criminal defense attorneys are prepared to handle your case with the speed and professionalism you need in order to build a strong defense. The sooner you contact us, the more we may be able to do to help you. Contact us today through our website, or call us at (614) 675-4845 to set up a meeting with one of our attorneys.