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AG Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Calling for Fentanyl Knock-offs to Remain a Schedule I Drug

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION IN CALLING FOR FENTANYL KNOCK-OFFS TO REMAIN A SCHEDULE I DRUG
All 56 Attorneys General Support and Agree
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has joined a bipartisan coalition of all 56 attorneys general in calling for Congress to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs.

Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
 
“We’ve got to do everything we can to stop the catastrophic and accelerating abuse of Fentanyl-related substances and its family of opioids,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Make no mistake: This is a national crisis. The legitimate use of these drugs has dwindled even as abuse and deaths grow. I urge Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

In the letter, the attorneys general urge Congress to pass S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order in February 2018 to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances.

This scheduling order is set to expire less than two months from now on Feb. 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to schedule fentanyl-related substances.

The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those who traffic in this deadly substance off the streets.

In the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 72,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths, roughly 40% involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter.
 

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AG Reyes Statement on Aaron Shamo Conviction

August 29, 2019

Following the announcement of the conviction of Aaron Shamo, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement:

“We may never know the full extent of the lives lost or the families harmed by Aaron Shamo’s deadly enterprise as a global drug dealer.

“Shamo callously profited from trafficking dangerous doses of Fentanyl to vulnerable people caught in the clutches of addiction.

“This case highlights the devastating effects of trafficking illicit Fentanyl, an often overlooked but deadly aspect of the opioid crisis. 

“Shamo’s conviction today is a significant victory in the ongoing war on illegal opioids in our state and nation. Utahans owe a debt of gratitude to all involved in taking down this predator.

“We thank DEA Supervisory Agent Brian Besser and his fellow agents who put their lives in danger to investigate this case and eliminate a clear and present danger.

“We also commend US Attorney John Huber, Special AUSA Michael Gadd and the joint prosecution team of the US Attorney, Kent Burggraaf from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, the FDA, Homeland Security, IRS-Criminal Investigation and Postal Inspectors.

“To further protect our families from the Aaron Shamos of the world, we need to have real and honest dialogues about addiction as a public health crisis.

“In those discussions, we must eliminate shame and judgment. This will allow more prevention in some cases and in others, more treatment and recovery resources to those trapped in the deadly cycle of addiction.”

Rep. Paul Ray: Utah is an overdose capital, and fentanyl must be stopped

Written by Utah Representative Paul Ray and originally posted in the Salt Lake Tribune.

March 13, 2019

It may come as somewhat of a shock for most Utahns to learn that our state has one of the worst rates of opioid drug overdoses in our country. In fact, our state has been consistently ranked among the top 10 for opioid-related overdoses for the past decade. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 people died from opioid-related overdoses in Utah during 2016 alone.

The data for 2016 showed a slight improvement over 2015 due to federal, state and local efforts via the Utah Opioid Task Force, as a result of its cracking down on the over-prescription and sale of legal pain-relieving medications that contain opioids. However, the rate of mortality has remained stubbornly high due to the spread of an illegally manufactured drug called fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid most people had never even heard of five years ago. It is such a potent drug that even a few milligrams of it — equivalent to a grain of rice — can be deadly for anyone who comes into contact with it — even accidentally.

China is the main source of manufacturing the illegal fentanyl finding its way across our borders. Most of the drugs are shipped to Mexican drug cartels that have perfected the process of pressing fentanyl into counterfeit pills and smuggling them into the U.S. for distribution. Sometimes the fentanyl is just shipped in bulk over our borders and is turned into pills in factories on our own soil.

By now, many of us have heard the unfortunate story of Aaron Shamo, an otherwise promising young man, an Eagle Scout from a solid family. Shamo became a drug kingpin in a comfortable Salt Lake City suburb, manufacturing more than 500,000 counterfeit pills made from fentanyl to sell on the dark web.

If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

Just before the recent elections, President Donald Trump signed into law the STOP Act, the first sweeping legislation addressing some of the problems that have given rise to this epidemic. The need for this legislation was so great, less than 10 out of 535 Members of the House of Representatives and Senate voted against it.

While this is an excellent first step, Congress needs to take further, more robust action. We desperately need more security at our borders and, like our Attorney General Sean Reyes, I urge Congress to now pass the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act, which would give prosecutors additional powers to go after the ringleaders of the production and manufacturing cartels responsible for selling these deadly drugs in our state.

Make no mistake, we cannot ease up on the pressure required to defeat the spread of this deadly drug that has invaded Utah. State leaders like myself must continue to push for legislation that will secure our communities until the death toll recedes to zero.

Paul Ray represents District 13 in the Utah House of Representatives.

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