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When fentanyl kills user, Reed says trafficker should face death penalty

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U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
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This photo illustration from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows a penny next to 2 milligrams of fentanyl, a lethal dose in most people, according to the agency.

Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, has re-introduced a bill that toughens penalties for people convicted of trafficking fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

Reed wants traffickers to face the death penalty when the drugs they sell kill a user. He re-introduced a bill that adds the options of capital punishment and life imprisonment to existing drug laws.

“This is not something to target the users, the addicts that are addicted to heroin and related substances,” Reed said, “but really the cartels, the traffickers.”

The measure comes in response to recent drug busts in New York state that included large amounts of fentanyl. Reed first proposed the tougher penalties in 2016 and again in 2017.

Users sometimes buy drugs without knowing they contain fentanyl. That combination of fentanyl and heroin is one cause of overdose deaths.

The bill refers to the drug alone or mixed with heroin. The Centers for Disease Control reports an increase in overdose deaths resulting from the mixture of fentanyl with heroin or cocaine.