‘One pill can kill’: U.S. Attorney says fentanyl a top drug enforcement priority

"We're seeing fentanyl in pretty much every drug that we're encountering."
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 5:27 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - With fentanyl overdose deaths reaching over 100,000 in 2022, those who work with law enforcement are trying to crack down on the deadly drug. WALB’s Jim Wallace spoke to a Georgia U.S. Attorney about priorities for state agencies.

I know fentanyl is an issue that every sort of law enforcement is concerned that right now the Department of Justice is very concerned about fitting all is well.

“It is really a top priority when it comes to drug enforcement, particularly because it’s just such a dangerous drug in which so many overdose death,” U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Peter Leary said.

What could be done? It just seems to be an overwhelming problem that so many people are becoming victims of.

“Well, we’re certainly working very hard for the law enforcement standpoint, but the federal level, but partnering with state and local law enforcement agencies, there’s also a strong educational component. That really we’re asking parents, particularly to talk to their kids about the fact that one pill can kill,” Leary said.

A lot of people who have been victims of this talk about how they were poisoned. It wasn’t really the fact that they knew they were even taking it, they were just absolutely it wasn’t as much an overdose as a poison that they never knew was a threat.

“We’re seeing fentanyl in pretty much every drug that we’re encountering,” Leary said. “So we’re seeing it mixed with cocaine, with lots of what appear to be prescription pills. Somebody may think they’re taking Xanax and they’re only taking fentanyl pills, so a lot of folks are unintentional.”

I know that there’s a lot of talk about the fact that this is traced to going back as far as China or coming across from Mexico. So the foreign powers, the foreign governments being involved in it, that’s where you, the federal government, the Department of Justice, really have to really take a big step.

“We’re working to both interdict the drugs locally, but also certainly looking internationally about how the drugs are coming into the country. But one of the biggest issues is that with folks having cell phones, basically, everybody has a drug dealer in their pocket. So particularly with young folks, again, they’re on social media. They think they’re ordering what may be they think, less lethal pill, and even in fact, they’re getting that,” Leary said.

Are you glad that lawmakers are finally getting in touch with this? Maybe stepping up the fines, and the sentences involved in this?

“We’ve definitely seen some very good sentences, and I think again, we’re seeing folks as lawmakers that the state and federal level are realizing this is that a growing threat and we’ve not seen at the top of this wave. Unfortunately, we’re just trying to get part of this question answered.”