'Killing people left and right': Regan unveils bill to tackle fentanyl dealers

There were 17 heroin-related deaths in York County in 2013, and not one was related to fentanyl.

Five years later, there have been 59 confirmed heroin-related deaths so far in 2018, and 90 percent of those had fentanyl in the mix, according to local officials. 

“It’s literally killing people left and right,"  York County District Attorney Dave Sunday said.

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday references charts during a press conference at the York County Administration Center Thursday, July 19, 2018. The meeting announced Senate Bill 1222, which would establish sentencing guidelines for the trafficking of 
fentanyl. Bill Kalina photo

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Now, legislators are targeting fentanyl — a synthetic drug that is 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration — in the fight against Pennsylvania's opioid epidemic.

In a news conference Thursday, July 19, state Sen. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, and Sunday unveiled legislation that would create minimum sentencing guidelines for those caught dealing in fentanyl.

“These drug dealers need to know that if you are selling heroin, selling heroin with fentanyl, you are going to go to jail, and that’s what this legislation does," Regan said.

Legislation: Under Senate Bill 1222, anyone caught selling less than a gram of fentanyl faces a mandatory minimum two-year sentence and a $5,000 fine. Those with a prior drug-trafficking conviction face a three-year sentence and a $10,000 fine.

The sentences increase for those found selling quantities of fentanyl between 1 and 10 grams, 10 and 50 grams, 50 and 100 grams, and more than 100 grams.

“This isn’t targeting addicts; this is targeting people who are selling these drugs, poisoning our kids, poisoning our families and ruining our communities," Regan said.

The bill is awaiting referral to a state Senate committee. The Senate returns to session in late September. Regan said he is hopeful the Legislature will quickly approve the bill and send it to the governor for his signature.

“This legislation by itself is not that cure, but it is an absolutely critical component to the weapons that we have to keep this community safe and stop this epidemic," Sunday said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.