Emergency prohibition of fentanyl trafficking due to expire

PIERRE, S.D. — In an effort to combat the deadly opioid crisis, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a temporary two-year order that made all fentanyl-related substances illegal — which expires early February 2020.

“Working hand-in-hand with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement here in South Dakota, this office has vigorously prosecuted anyone caught trafficking in fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances,” said U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons.

According to the statement from the Department of Justice, there has been a substantial supply impact from the temporary ban during the past two years, seeing a 50% decrease in fentanyl-related substances encountered both nationally, and locally.

The DEA’s emergency prohibition of fentanyl analogues expires on midnight on Feb. 6, 2020 — unless Congress acts to extend it.

“Fentanyl and its analogues are responsible for dozens of overdoses and multiple deaths in South Dakota,” says Parsons. “Without action by Congress, law enforcement will not have all of the tools needed to protect South Dakotans from the onslaught of these extraordinarily dangerous substances.”

According to the CDC, pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. However, the most recent cases of fenanyl-related overdose in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl — which is sold through illegal drug markets and often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine, with or without the users knowledge, to increase euphoric effects.

According the the DEA, many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths.


Parsons says the fight is far from over — he urges Congress to take action immediately to extend the scheduling of these dangerous substances, so that South Dakota has every tool they need to fight the epidemic.

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