The Drug Enforcement Administration, along with the Department of Justice, has taken emergency action to try to curb at least one part of the opioid epidemic in America. On Thursday, the agencies announced an order that will classify all illicit versions of fentanyl as a Class 1 drug, the most serious group. The change makes it easier for federal agents and prosecutors to go after anyone who possesses, imports, distributes or manufactures any type of illicit fentanyl.
Robert Patterson, the DEA's Acting Administrator, called the move "one step in the ongoing fight to battle the opioid epidemic".
According to the DEA, much of the illicit fentanyl that ends up in the United States comes through the mail. An investigation between Circa and our partner, Full Measure, discovered the process is easier than it should be as a result of loopholes in the postal code that don't require specific tracking information for shipments coming from overseas through the United States Postal Service.
Illicit fentanyl has become a major problem for communities across the country, with hundreds of overdose deaths reported. The new classification for illicit forms of the drug means it now falls under the same category as heroin, LSD and marijuana.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions touted the move as part of the President Trump's agenda to combat the nation's drug crisis. He said, "By scheduling all fentanyls, we empower our law enforcement officers and prosecutors to take swift and necessary action against those spreading these deadly poisons."