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Missouri House considering tougher penalties for fentanyl

(Missourinet) Legislation to increase penalties for trafficking and possessing fentanyl was heard by the Missouri House Judiciary Committee Tuesday evening in Jefferson City.

State Rep. Nick Schroer speaks to Capitol reporters in December 2017 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Fentanyl is not included in Missouri’s current drug trafficking statutes.

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, notes federal agents made the largest seizure of fentanyl in U.S. history last week in Arizona.

“Right after this (bill) was called for a hearing, we had the largest bust of fentanyl coming across our border in history. It was 254 pounds,” Schroer testifies.

Schroer tells Missourinet those 254 pounds of fentanyl could have killed millions of Americans.

NBC News reports U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers valued the fentanyl at $3.5 million, adding that fentanyl is the synthetic opioid blamed for the majority of overdose deaths.

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony about Schroer’s bill, which increases criminal penalties for fentanyl. It makes trafficking at least 60 grams of fentanyl a class A felony.

Schroer tells State Rep. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, that much of the fentanyl is being made in Mexico and China.

“Do you know what percentage of it is being made outside the country?” Trent asks Schroer.

“The vast majority of it,” Schroer responds.

“It would be nice to have some border control, wouldn’t it gentleman?” Trent says. “It would be nice,” Schroer says.

The longtime prosecutor in western Missouri’s Platte County says it’s time to add fentanyl to Missouri’s statutes. Republican Eric Zahnd testified for Schroer’s bill.

“Fentanyl is an incredibly dangerous street drug, which is killing people at alarming rates,” Zahnd says. “It needs to be added.”

Sheldon Lineback of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association and Brad Thielemier of the Missouri State Troopers Association testified Tuesday night for Schroer’s bill. So did a representative for anesthesiologists.

No one testified against the bill.

Schroer’s bill also toughens penalties on “date rape drugs”. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the bill next week.

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