BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The state continues to see a rise in fentanyl-related overdoses, and a new law going into effect looks to crack down on dealers.
HB90 started Aug. 1 and increases the penalties for those caught dealing fentanyl or products laced with it.
“The hope is that this sends a chilling effect to those people who are distributing these drugs to our citizens and killing them,” said State Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley.
In 2022, over a thousand Louisianans died from taking drugs laced with fentanyl, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. In East Baton Rouge Parish, over 300 died last year and so far this year, 161 people have already died from fentanyl-related overdoses.
“It is being pressed and disguised as different pills, and it’s being put in a host of other drugs,” said East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
The law increases jail time to a minimum of seven years in prison for the first offense, 10 years for the second offense, and life in prison for the third offense. Someone who is caught with over 250 grams of fentanyl, or products with a trace of the drug, will be sentenced to life in prison.
“I don’t have any sympathy for anyone who deals fentanyl. If you’re dealing fentanyl, you intend to kill people,” said Stefanski.
EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore said this law is a tool to help prosecutors keep dealers off of the streets.
“There are so many parents that are out there. Again, 300 last year, 300 the year before, 300 this year, that they want someone to go to jail for the rest of their life for killing their son or daughter for dealing them a deadly dose of fentanyl,” Moore said.
Since last year, the EBR narcotics division seized over 30 pounds of fentanyl products.
“That is enough to potentially kill more than 150,000 people. That’s one and a half times the people that can fit in a packed Tiger Stadium on Saturday night,” said Sheriff Gautreaux.
This bill cracks down on those intending to deal fentanyl in Louisiana. The parish coroner believes the other half of the battle is getting treatment for people addicted to the drug.
“If you don’t take care of their supply, meaning the drug dealer, then you’re spinning your wheels with how you manage the addict,” said Dr. Beau Clark, EBR Coroner.
Law enforcement hopes this major increase in penalties will help curb the flow of fentanyl into Louisiana communities.