Arizona Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) recently introduced House Rule (HR) 8228, which aims to punish those who distribute fentanyl, in cases resulting in death, with life in prison or the death penalty.
“In March 2022, I conducted a roundtable discussion in Goodyear, Arizona about the fentanyl crisis and our open border. Great law enforcement officers, including Sheriff [Mark] Lamb, attended, and we all heard the poignant testimony from the families of children who were poisoned to death by fentanyl,” Gosar said in a press release. “These drugs are killing our loved ones and plaguing communities all across America. We must get tough on those criminals that are contributing to this drug crisis.”
The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office for a quote on how this bill could help Arizona but was unable to receive a comment.
Gosar justified HR 8228 by discussing fentanyl’s potency and prevalence in America.
“One of the many deeply troubling consequences of Joe Biden’s open border policies is the deadly flow of fentanyl across the southern border. Since Biden assumed office in January 2021, more than 1,000,000 pounds of illegal drugs have been seized, including 7,700 pounds of fentanyl in just the first five months of 2022. The overwhelming majority of fentanyl is smuggled across the border from Mexico,” Gosar said.
Recently, an related incident occurred in Mexico, where prosecutors found an illicit facility with a pill press used to manufacture fentanyl pills. The facility was in San Luis Rio Colorado, a border town across from Yuma, Arizona.
According to the drug overdose statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100,000 people in America died from an overdose in 2021. Over 2,700 of those deaths were Arizonans.
Furthermore, Gosar stated that 33 countries, including Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia, carry the death penalty for drug dealers, and statistics show that these countries have significantly fewer overdose deaths than America.
The statistics he referenced come from Our World in Data, which shows that in 2019, 18.83 drug overdose deaths occurred per 100,000 people in the U.S., compared to the much smaller 0.24 per 100,000 in Indonesia.
“Does the death penalty for drug dealers who cause death work? Unequivocally yes,” said Gosar. “This bill could result in an almost complete elimination of drug poisoning deaths, based on the Indonesian results, and potentially save 100,000 American lives every year.”
In response to news of Gosar’s legislation, Arizona officials shared their support.
Pinal County Sheriff Lamb said he is proud of Gosar for introducing the bill. Lamb said he hoped the bill would prevent fentanyl from continuing to poison American families, and hold those who cause the damage accountable.
Furthermore, Arizona State Representative Leo Biasiucci (R-Kingman) called the bill a step in the right direction.
“Although I do believe that we have a lot of work to do in the area of criminal justice reform, we are still a nation of law and order. Fentanyl has destroyed the lives of millions of Americans. Until we make the punishment severe enough for those involved in the fentanyl drug trade, things will only get worse,” Biasiucci said.
Aside from distributors, under HR 2882, any person caught manufacturing or possessing with the intent to distribute fentanyl that causes death can receive the death penalty or life in prison.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Paul Gosar” by Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S. Background Photo “Fentanyl” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.