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AG: Drug traffickers must be accountable for 'death and misery they create'

Posted March 30

— Some law enforcement officers are calling the country's opioid epidemic the “modern day plague”.

Last year, synthetic opioids killed 77 people in North Carolina. The Town of Cary is an example of how no community is immune to the growing problem.

"We had four overdoses in a 72-hour period and three of those people passed away," said Tracy Jernigan, the town's assistant police chief.

Attorney General Josh Stein and law enforcement officers across the state say their hands are tied when it comes to prosecuting traffickers of synthetic drugs.

"We must hold the drug traffickers who are killing our people accountable for the death and misery they create," Stein said.

Row now, many of the substances used to make the synthetic drugs are not considered controlled substances, and are therefore legal.

"The criminal element the foreign drug cartels have craftiness and ingenuity to circumvent our laws," said Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger.

Officials say the majority of the drugs are manufactured in Asia, and then trafficked in the United States. The manufactures are constantly changing the compounds used.

"We see this coming quickly. The scary part is sometimes we don't know what we're dealing with," said Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson.

They Synthetic Opioid Control Act takes aim at dozens of the known fentanyl ingredients by classifying them all as controlled substances. A catch-all provision is designed to automatically add feature variations of the synthetic drugs.

"At the end of the day, it effects all communities and nobody is immune to it," Jernigan said.

Many of the synthetic drugs, or designer drugs, are 100 times more potent than morphine.

Officials believe the bill will not only allow them to get at the drug traffickers, but will ultimately save lives.

Stein says attacking the opioid problem has to be a three-pronged approach that includes prevention, treatment and enforcement. Another bill currently in the house, known as the STOP Act, addresses prevention and treatment.


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