Mobile Zone Lawmaker Vows to Crack Down on Fentanyl Trafficking

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Given the devastation caused by fentanyl, State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) said Monday he was surprised to learn there were no mandatory prison sentences. in Alabama for drug trafficking.

He said Baldwin County Assistant District Attorney Katy Sipper came to his attention out of frustration at his inability to secure jail time for a fentanyl conviction.

“It kind of surprised me for a second because I was like, ‘There’s no way that’s true,'” he said at a press conference on Monday to announce a new legislation. “There is marijuana trafficking. There is heroin trafficking. There is cocaine trafficking.

Turns out Sipper was right, though. So Simpson — himself, a former prosecutor — is proposing a mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of trafficking fentanyl.

The current law also surprised Leigh Wade, a Theodore resident whose daughter died of a fentanyl overdose in 2018.

“It’s just unreal to me,” she told FOX10 News. “I guess unless you live and learn, you find out about fentanyl and you find out the big problem it has in the lives it’s taken. And with this bill, that would be wonderful. That wouldn’t make them a mere slap on the wrist.

Simpson’s bill would establish mandatory sentences:

  • Selling one to two grams would result in a minimum prison sentence of three years.
  • Two to four grams would bring a minimum duration of 10 years.
  • Four to eight grams would bring a minimum of 25 years.
  • Eight grams or more would result in a life prison sentence.

The bill would also impose an additional five years on fentanyl dealers with previous convictions for the offense, and an additional 10 years on those with two or more convictions.

Prosecutors and sheriffs from both sides of Mobile Bay joined Simpson on Monday for a show of support. Lawmakers demonstrated the lethality of the drug with a 1 gram packet of Sweet ‘N Low.

“One gram of fentanyl can kill 500 people,” he said. “That’s the power he has.”

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said he had never seen anything like it.

“I believe this is by far the worst, most dangerous time I have seen in over four decades,” he said. “With fentanyl, as the rep said, it’s so powerful. They use it to package these other drugs. It is cheap; it’s cheap. It is very profitable. This is really, really narco-terrorism.

Cochran told reporters that law enforcement primarily finds fentanyl sourced from overseas — produced in China and then imported using the same drug trafficking rings in Mexico that are responsible for cocaine and other narcotics.

“I wish we could just fire a missile at these cartels in Mexico or wherever and blow them up,” he said. “Because it’s deadly for this country.”

Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack said overdose deaths in his jurisdiction have doubled three years in a row, mostly from fentanyl. And it’s not just a danger to users, Mack said, pointing to an incident last year in which Deputy Lee Banks inhaled fentanyl during a traffic stop. He said the deputy was gathering evidence and taking pictures when he threw a small amount of fentanyl at a bag.

“He immediately got up,” Mack said. “There was about three seconds of exposure. He said, “Something doesn’t feel…” Bam, he hit the ground.

Mack said Banks was lucky his partner had Narcan, which is used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose. He said the deputy spent six to eight hours in the hospital emergency room.

“And if the Narcan hadn’t been there, we would have had an officer killed in the line of duty that day,” he said.

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said overdose deaths were also on the rise on her side of the bay.

“I’m getting death notices that are considered non-prosecutable homicides,” she said. “And those include drug overdoses. … I get at least one, sometimes two, sometimes three a week, drug overdose deaths.

Virginia Guy, executive director of the Drug Education Council in Mobile, said her organization will “step up our game” to raise awareness of the dangerousness of fentanyl. She said first-time drug addicts die for the first time.

“It crosses all kinds of demographics – young, old,” she said. “And there’s nothing more heartbreaking for a family than losing someone to an overdose. So we’re ready to do everything we can to get this message across to people that just one pill can kill. .

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