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Sean D. Reyes
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AG Reyes urges Congress to close deadly Fentanyl loophole

August 23, 2018


Utah joins bipartisan group in an effort to stem opioid supply

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, as part of a bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general, called on Congress today to help end the opioid epidemic and close a loophole that allows those who traffic deadly fentanyl to stay a step ahead of law enforcement.

“Plain and simple, the SOFA Act will save lives in our homes and communities,” said Attorney General Reyes. “When a new Fentanyl-like chemical hits the market, the DEA can quickly classify the new drug as illegal and take appropriate action. It also puts key ingredients beyond the reach of illegal manufacturers and gives law enforcement more tools. As we begin to gain ground in the fight against the opioid epidemic, this new law will prevent new crises, and stop the drug traffickers who prey upon our families.”

In partnership with by Attorneys General Brad Schimel, R-Wis., and George Jepsen, D-Conn., the state leaders today sent a letter to Congress in support of S. 1553 and H.R. 4922, Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II controlled substance and when used as prescribed by a doctor, can be a safe painkiller. However, outside of careful supervision, fentanyl and analogues manufactured illicitly can be lethal.

Brian Besser, DEA District Agent in Charge for the state of Utah and co-chair of the Utah Opioid Task Force, made the following statement:

Drug-related overdose incidents related to fentanyl, a highly potent and deadly synthetic opioid, are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States. The proliferation of illegal fentanyl products, as well as the continued clandestine production of fentanyl analogues, represents a very significant threat to public health and safety. Often laced with heroin and counterfeit prescription pills sold on the street, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it. The SOFA Act will significantly assist drug law enforcement efforts by proactively scheduling all newly-modified fentanyl analogues. This act alone will assist in saving countless lives by restricting access to fentanyl’s deadly ingredients and by helping investigators identify, arrest, and prosecute those high-level offenders who operate the fentanyl production and distribution networks which place our communities at risk.

The SOFA Act, if passed by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, would eliminate the current loophole which keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analogue and then introduce these powders into the opioid supply. Instead, the catch-all language utilized within The SOFA Act will allow the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to proactively schedule all newly-modified fentanyl analogues. This Act will help save lives by cutting off access to fentanyl’s deadly ingredients and by helping prosecutors lock up those at the top of fentanyl production and distribution rings.

In addition to Utah, Connecticut and Wisconsin, the other attorneys general who signed the letter were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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  1. A copy of the letter can be found here: Letter to Congress – SOFA Act 8.23.

Photo by Jomar