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DeSantis signs bill targeting fentanyl, meth dealers

Among other things, the bill will increase minimum mandatory prison terms for people convicted of trafficking different amounts of fentanyl.
A pouch containing crystalized methamphetamine and a homemade pipe are shown March 21, 2006, in Window Rock, Ariz.
A pouch containing crystalized methamphetamine and a homemade pipe are shown March 21, 2006, in Window Rock, Ariz. [ MATT YORK | AP ]
Published May 20

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed into law a measure that will increase sentences for trafficking fentanyl and could lead to dealers facing death sentences or life in prison if methamphetamine they distribute kills someone.

DeSantis signed the bill (HB 95) during a ceremony at Polk County Fire Rescue Station 23 in Lakeland. The event focused on fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid that is often mixed with other drugs.

“Yes, someone dealing fentanyl is murdering people, and they’re going to prison in the state of Florida. And that is appropriate,” DeSantis said. “But we’re also doing things like the first lady (Casey DeSantis) is doing, the outreach to the young kids.”

Incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, added that “if you come and sell fentanyl to our citizens, you will spend the best years of your life here in Florida in prison.”

The law, which will go into effect Oct. 1, follows recommendations from the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Abuse, which DeSantis created in 2019.

One change adds methamphetamine to a list of controlled substances that can subject dealers to capital first-degree felony murder charges if the drug is the “proximate cause” of a person’s death. The list already includes cocaine, opium, methadone, alfentanil, carfentanil, fentanyl and sufentanil.

Related: Overdose deaths in Tampa Bay's Black community are skyrocketing

Another change in the law will increase minimum mandatory prison terms for people convicted of trafficking different amounts of fentanyl. Under the new measure, people trafficking between 14 and 28 grams of fentanyl will face 15 years to 20 years.

The new law also will increase penalties for selling controlled substances within 1,000 feet of substance-abuse treatment centers, as well as hospitals and health care facilities that provide substance abuse treatment.

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