Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) has introduced a bill that would classify those who died from illicit fentanyl poisoning as victims of a crime.
The legislation (pdf), dubbed the Recognizing Victims of Illicit Fentanyl Poisoning Act, would add Americans who have died from illicit fentanyl poisoning to a list of recognized victims, according to a Jan. 31 press release published on the congressman’s website.
The list is kept by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which is within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The agency administers federal funds, known as the “Crime Victims Fund,” and oversees support programs and services across the nation to assist victims in the immediate aftermath of crime.
“Victims of illicit fentanyl poisoning are exactly that—victims,” Carter said. “Criminals are disguising this poison as other, less lethal drugs to make a quick buck. It’s time to give surviving families the support they need and fully investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.”
Kristy Dyroff, a mother who lives in Georgia’s first congressional district and lost her son due to fentanyl poisoning, stressed the importance of the legislation as she shared her “first-hand account of the horrors of fentanyl.”
“Drug poisonings are not a victimless crime,” Dyroff said, according to the release. “My son was sold a drug online that was later discovered to be fentanyl. It killed him instantly. His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. The dealer pleaded guilty to trafficking resulting in death and is now serving 20 years in federal prison.”
“This drug is murdering almost 200 people each day in the U.S.,” she continued. “The Office for Victims of Crime has a responsibility to stop stigmatizing our families and recognize us all as victims deserving of respect and advocacy services.”
Grim Figures a ‘Wake-Up Call’
In 2021, fentanyl poisoning was the “leading cause of death” among Americans between the ages of 18 to 45, according to a Jan. 12 post by Families Against Fentanyl (FAF).
Deaths among Americans aged 25 to 44 made up 53.2 percent of all fentanyl deaths in America in 2021. Fentanyl poisoning was found to be a more likely cause of death among Americans aged 35 to 44 than any other 10-year age group. Among children, fentanyl fatalities were found to be rising “faster than any other age group.”
Fentanyl deaths among children aged 1 to 4 “more than tripled” in two years, with deaths among infants less than a year old rising four-fold. Since 2015, deaths among infants have ballooned almost 10-fold while deaths among those between the ages of 1 and 14 have risen 15-fold, FAF said.
FAF founder Jim Rauh called the “disturbing new findings”hange a “wake-up call” to American leaders, according to a Jan. 12 press release.
“Families Against Fentanyl is calling for the Biden Administration to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction and immediately establish a White House task force dedicated to the fentanyl crisis. Americans deserve to know what is being done to save lives, and what is being done to uncover and stop the international manufacturers and traffickers of illicit fentanyl,” he said.
An increasing number of Mexican cartels have been importing fentanyl from China before pressing it into pills or mixing it into other counterfeit pills made to look like Xanax, Adderall, or oxycodone. The drugs are then sold to unwitting buyers in the United States.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. It can be deadly even in very small doses.
CDC data shows that there were 80,816 deaths from synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, in 2021, making up 75 percent of the estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths that year.
Epoch Times reporter Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.