CLEVELAND — Time is running out for the emergency regulation that designates illicit Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogues illegal.
“I’m concerned,” said Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Nearly two years ago, because of the opioid epidemic and unprecedented overdoses, the Drug Enforcement Administration used its authority to make all non-scheduled Fentany-like substances illegal under the Controlled Substance Act.
“We have an emergency authorization in place, to schedule, that is to regulate, Fentanyl analogues," Herdman said. "These are substances that all you have to do is change one molecule chemically and you have an entirely different analogue, so very important that we have that flexibility."
From October 1, 2018 until September 30, 2019, 184 people were indicted on federal charges stemming from Fentanyl investigations here in the Northern District of Ohio. That’s second only to the Southern District of California.
“It’s really important for us because it allow us to provide additional penalties,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith.
The flow of the powerful drugs onto the streets of Northeast Ohio shows no sign of slowing down.
DEA agents continue to seize large quantities of the drug.
“The cartels are 100% bringing in large quantities of Fentanyl to the U.S. with the destination of Ohio, and those are the people we are going after,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge, Keith Martin.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin introduced the bipartisan legislation, Federal Initative to Guarantee Health by Targeting Fentanyl Act, to permanently schedule illicitly-manufactured and deadly Fentanyl-related substances.
The current emergency regulations in place expire February 6, 2020.