Friday, April 20, 2018

Fentanyl trafficking penalties in NJ are weaker than heroin

When the New Jersey State Police arrested Daniel Vasquez and Jesus Carrillo-Pineda in a North Bergen parking lot last June, the two men had between them enough fentanyl to kill every person in New Jersey and New York City. The North Bergen seizure, which netted a total of 45 kilograms, could have yielded 18 million lethal doses. 

Vasquez, who was charged with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, was given six years in state prison. Carrillo-Pineda, who was charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute, got 10 years.
Fentanyl has exploded in recent years. Once found in only a fraction of heroin seizures, it now pollutes more than a third of the heroin tested. 417 New Jerseyans died in 2015, and more than 800 in 2016. That trend is likely the same for 2017.

Possession of one ounce or more of fentanyl — a few grains of which can kill — with intent to distribute is a second-degree crime, and carries a sentence of only 5 to 10 years. But possession of five ounces or more of heroin with intent to distribute is a first-degree crime that carries with it a 10- to 20-year prison sentence.
State lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would mark as a first-degree crime the illegal manufacturing, distribution, or dispensing of five grams or more of fentanyl. This would double the maximum jail sentence and bring penalties in line with those for heroin distribution.

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