Attorney General Stein calls for 'fentanyl control unit'

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Monday, February 20, 2023
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Attorney General Josh Stein said Monday that he is seeking funding to create a Fentanyl Control Unit within the North Carolina Department of Justice's Special Prosecutions and Law Enforcement Section.

The unit would help local district attorneys handle large-scale fentanyl trafficking, wiretap, and overdose cases, Stein's office said. Prosecutors in Special Prosecutions are referred cases from local district attorneys for reasons of conflict, jurisdictional complexity, and resource management. A new Fentanyl Control Unit would prosecute fentanyl and other drug traffickers and dealers, bringing additional expertise and resources to these cases.

"Fentanyl is deadly and highly addictive," Stein said. "Even as we interdict more fentanyl at the border than ever before, too many North Carolinians overdose from fentanyl and are dying. We must hold those who peddle this poison accountable and take them off our streets. I look forward to working with leaders in the legislature to strengthen our state's ability to prosecute these cases and save lives."

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Under Stein's proposal, the specialized unit will target high-level cases.

"In Buncombe County and across North Carolina, we have seen a sustained uptick in both overdose deaths and prosecutions of people responsible for bringing and selling fentanyl in our communities," said Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams. "I applaud the Attorney General's efforts to deliver more resources to prosecute people engaged in trafficking fentanyl, reduce use, and save lives throughout our state."

In 2021, more than 70,000 people died of a fentanyl overdose in the United States. North Carolina is also experiencing similar increases; in 2022, fentanyl rose to become the No. 2 drug found in drug evidence tested at the State Crime Lab.