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Parents of loved ones lost to fentanyl poisoning ask government to take action against drug crisis

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Ray Donovan, Chief of Operations of the DEA, stands in front of "The Faces of Fentanyl" wall (Photo by AGNES BUN/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday, parents shared personal stories of losing children to fentanyl at a roundtable organized by the Republican Study Committee. The advocates urged the government to help curb the crisis impacting young people nationwide.

Ten parents and loved ones spoke about losing a family member to fentanyl during the roundtable event led by chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R) of Indiana this week.

The advocates argued that fentanyl-related deaths should not be considered overdoses, the Daily Caller reported. The founder of Lost Voices of Fentanyl, April Babcock, stated during the meeting, “This is not an overdose. Overdose implies there’s a safe dose to take. There is no safe dose of fentanyl.”

Babcock called for top-down action from the White House. She said, “I want a COVID-like response to fentanyl. Everyone knew after three months of COVID, social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands. Where is that for fentanyl?”

According to Customs and Border Protection, the United States seized over 11,200 pounds of fentanyl in the 2021 fiscal year. In the 2022 fiscal year, authorities confiscated approximately 10,600 pounds.

The CDC reported 107,375 overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in January 2022. Of those deaths, 67% involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The DEA recently recognized National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day on August 21. As part of the announcement, the DEA also launched an exhibit titled "The Faces of Fentanyl," which features photographs of lost loved ones.

“Drug traffickers are driving addiction, and increasing their profits, by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl until it’s too late,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.

At the RSC round-table, parent Theresa Juillerat called the drug problem a “red, white, and blue crisis that needs immediate attention.”

Another parent at the meeting, Lori Ashenfelde, called for lawmakers to take action. She stated, “Fentanyl is killing our youth. Something has to be done to shut the border down.”

On Thursday, Rep. Jim Banks proposed an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act that would provide harsher penalties for drug traffickers when narcotics have the appearance of candy or are combined with beverage products. The legislation would designate the crime a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison for a first offense and a maximum of 20 years for a second offense.

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