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What You Didn’t Know About Fentanyl in California

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 100 times more potent, and even a small dose can kill. Fentanyl is legally available as a prescription from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian licensed to practice in California.

Fentanyl is a schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Typically, when fentanyl is prescribed, it is used to treat patients with severe pain such as cancer patients, or to manage pain after surgery. Fentanyl can be prescribed as a patch, lozenge, injection, sublingual film, or nasal spray.

When used correctly, fentanyl can be a safe and effective way to manage pain. However; because it is so potent, it has a high risk of abuse and overdose. Fentanyl should only be used according to a doctor's prescription and under medical supervision.

Illegally manufactured fentanyl is sold as a powder, pill, or on blotter paper, and it is often mixed with heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine, which can result in overdose and death. In recent years, there has been a surge in overdoses and deaths related to fentanyl abuse. According to the CDC, over 70,000 people died due to fentanyl overdoses from 2021 to 2022. As a result, people need to be aware of the dangers of this drug.

The Influx of Fake Fentanyl Pills

As the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to investigate the influx of fake and illegally manufactured pills laced with fentanyl, new laboratory testing has revealed that 6 out of 10 fake fentanyl-laced prescription pills now contain the deadly synthetic opioid. This is a significant increase from the previous testing, which found that only 1 out of 10 fake pills contained fentanyl. The DEA is urging the public to be aware of this new development and to exercise caution when handling any potentially fake prescription pills.

Without prompt medical treatment, an overdose can quickly result in death. Thus, it is clear that fentanyl poses a serious threat to public health, and understanding how the drug kills are essential for preventing fatalities.

Fentanyl and Homelessness in Los Angeles

Fentanyl abuse is often the cause of homelessness. In the streets of Los Angeles, 46% of homeless individuals have substance abuse disorders – and fentanyl is often the most used drug among the homeless due to its availability and cheaper price compared with heroin and other drugs. In some parts of Los Angeles, fentanyl addicts can be seen collapsed in corners or even asleep while hunched over on the sidewalk.

A report released by the LA County Department of Public Health highlights that out of the nearly 2,000 homeless individuals in Los Angeles who died from April 2020 to March 2021, drug overdose was the leading cause. This is a 56% increase as compared to the previous year. This is an alarming figure and reaffirms the health challenges associated with those living on the street addicted to fentanyl.

How Does Fentanyl Get Into the US?

A significant portion of the fentanyl that is available in the US comes from China. Chinese manufacturers have been able to produce fentanyl relatively cheaply and easily. Chinese fentanyl or the chemical precursors to manufacture fentanyl are sent to Mexico and then smuggled into the United States through land borders or by mail.

The drug can also be ordered online from Chinese laboratories that manufacture and ship it directly to buyers in the United States. Once it reaches US soil, fentanyl is often distributed by drug dealers and gangs. The illegal sale of fentanyl contributes to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States.

Fentanyl, Money Laundering, and the Mexican Cartel

Chinese money launderers have teamed up with Mexican drug cartels to launder millions of dollars of drug money. The cartels provide Chinese money launderers with large sums of cash, which are then funneled through a series of businesses and shell companies in China. In exchange for the cash, China sells Mexican drug cartels all the chemicals necessary to manufacture fentanyl. The cartel then manufactures fentanyl and smuggles it into the US. The drug cartel money is virtually untraceable through this buying and selling scheme.

What Are the Penalties for Trafficking Fentanyl in California?

Trafficking fentanyl is a serious crime in California, and the penalties can be very harsh. If you are convicted of trafficking fentanyl, you may be facing a long prison sentence. If you are caught trafficking fentanyl in California, you will be charged with a felony, and in addition to being incarcerated, you will also have a criminal record.

According to the fentanyl laws of California, any person who is arrested with fentanyl in California while transporting, importing, selling, furnishing, administering, or giving away fentanyl without a prescription will be imprisoned for three to five years if found guilty. This law also applies to any person who is found guilty of attempting to traffic fentanyl as well.

The penalty for transporting fentanyl from one California county to another is imprisonment of three, six, or nine years if found guilty. 

Penalties for Intending to Sell Fentanyl in California

If you are caught attempting to sell fentanyl in California, you could be arrested and charged with a felony. According to the narcotics laws of California, any person who possesses fentanyl with the intent to sell it or purchases fentanyl with the intent to sell it shall be punished by imprisonment for two to four years if found guilty.

Enhancement of Fentanyl Trafficking Penalties

In California, the penalties for trafficking fentanyl vary depending on the amount of fentanyl involved. For example, if an individual is caught with less than one kilogram of fentanyl, they may receive a sentence of two to nine years in prison; however, if the weight of the fentanyl exceeds one or more kilograms, the penalties, such as the amount of prison time, can be enhanced or increased under California Health and Safety Code Section 11370.4.

If a person is caught with the following amounts of fentanyl, they may receive additional prison time as listed below:

Fentanyl exceeding 1 kilogram = additional 3 years

Fentanyl exceeding 4 kilograms = additional 5 years

Fentanyl exceeding 10 kilograms = additional 10 years

Fentanyl exceeding 20 kilograms = additional 15 years

Fentanyl exceeding 40 kilograms = additional 20 years

Fentanyl exceeding 80 kilograms = additional 25 years

Additionally, if an individual is caught trafficking fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a school, they could be facing an additional one to two years in prison. Finally, it should be noted that individuals who are caught trafficking fentanyl could also be charged with other crimes, such as drug possession, money laundering, or drug manufacturing.

Why You Need a Fentanyl Lawyer in Los Angeles

If you or someone close to you has been charged with a fentanyl offense in Los Angeles, then seeking the services of an experienced attorney is your best line of defense. Fentanyl-related laws are notoriously intricate and complicated, so having someone on your side who understands them and can use that knowledge to negotiate plea deals or challenge evidence is essential.

Los Angeles fentanyl attorney William Kroger is intimately familiar with the legal system and has a deep understanding of California’s fentanyl laws. Mr. Kroger knows how to build strategies that get results, provides valuable advice and guidance on any case involving fentanyl crimes, and will fight tirelessly to protect your rights.

Call 323-655-5700 for a 100% free consultation with Attorney William Kroger or use the online contact form to set up an appointment and get a free case review.

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