New effort in Maryland to combat upsurge in fentanyl deaths

BALTIMORE (AP) — Authorities have announced a new effort in Maryland to combat an alarming increase of overdose fatalities caused by a synthetic opioid that’s fueling the nation’s worst-ever drug crisis.

In a Wednesday announcement, U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur says all arrests involving fentanyl distribution will now be jointly reviewed by U.S. and Baltimore officials to determine if they can be handled in the federal system.

He says people charged federally under the new plan could face longer sentences and no parole.

Fentanyl was the driving force behind Maryland’s all-time high number of drug fatalities last year, which increased from 1,119 in 2016 to 1,594 in 2017. This year’s projected total exceeds 2,000 deaths from fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

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