WASHINGTON — Virginia’s attorney general continues to make fighting the opioid-heroin epidemic a top priority, and he has been pushing to crack down on fentanyl and heroin dealers.
Attorney General Mark Herring said law enforcement is focused on fentanyl dealers because fentanyl is the reason for the rise in overdose deaths in Virginia and around the country. Fentanyl deaths in Virginia shot up in 2016.
“Fentanyl is deadly in almost microscopic doses. A fatal dose is basically equivalent of a few grains of salt,” Herring said.
It is indistinguishable from heroin and users can overdose and die anytime they use it, he said.
“We’re really going to continue to crack down on heroine and fentanyl dealers and traffickers who try to profit off addiction,” Herring said.
Herring’s prosecution team has worked on more than 110 cases against dealers that involved more than 665 pounds of heroin that had a street value of $37 million.
One case involved a Fairfax County woman, who has been sentenced to 15 years for her part in a fentanyl overdose death of a Northern Virginia man.
Evidence in court showed that 38-year-old Erin Apgar of Centerville, Virginia, sold Edgar Escobar fentanyl-laced heroin that led to his death in 2016. Fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Herring said the push to get the dealers off the street is part of a comprehensive approach to put the brakes on the opioid crisis. He said it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach that includes stepped up enforcement, along with education and prevention.
“We’re advocating for more and expanded treatment options as well as new laws,” he said.
Herring’s office is helping lead a nationwide investigation into the role pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors may have played in creating or prolonging the epidemic, as well.
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