Fentanyl stopper? DA reveals key to county’s success

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — Fentanyl overdoses are the new leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45, with 40,000 fatalities per year.

One California district attorney, however, may have found a way to slow down the community damage: murder charges.

“I can tell you here in Riverside County, I’ve heard from individuals, counselors that work in drug rehabilitation, and word is getting out in our county. People are saying, ‘You don’t want to deal drugs or have anything to do with fentanyl in Riverside Country because the D.A. is going to charge you with murder,'” Mike Hestrin said during Tuesday evening’s edition of “On Balance with Leland Vittert.”

Hestrin is the district attorney of Riverside County, California, which has 15 cases pending of the sort.

Explaining the California law to NewsNation host Leland Vittert, Hestrin said if his department can prove that the person who furnished or sold the pill to the individual that died knew what they were selling and the dangers and decided to sell it anyway, then they can bring a second degree murder charge under California law under the theory of implied malice.

While some may find it extreme, Hestrin cites both the prevalence of the drug and the potency as key factors ub why his offices are seeking a penalty of such high degree.

The Drug Enforcement Administration now says that 40% of counterfeit pills contain a fatal dose of fentanyl. Additionally, it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to kill a person — numbers that are especially concerning being that DEA analysis has found counterfeit pills ranging from .02 to 5.1 milligrams (more than twice the lethal dose) of fentanyl per tablet.

“I think that the presence of fentanyl in such overwhelming quantities in our country and the lethality of the drug has really changed everything with regard to drug possession, drug use and certainly drug dealing,” Hestrin said.

In terms of the bigger picture beyond his county, like the cartels living in safe havens in Mexico who arev bringing the drugs across the border, Hestrin says the U.S. has to figure out a way to stem the flow.

Until then, fear of the murder charges is exactly what he wants.

“We’ve got to get away from this notion that we have to be permissive on all forms of drug dealing. This is not the war on drugs. This is not the 1980s. Fentanyl has changed everything and we’ve got to take a firm line because this substance that is pouring into out country is killing our young people,” Hestrin said.

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