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Federal order that makes all fentanyl-like substances illegal about to expire

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A federal emergency order that makes all fentanyl-related substances illegal is about to expire. If it expires, it could make it easier for criminals to get away with trafficking the extremely dangerous opioid that has killed hundreds in Milwaukee.

In 2019, 233 people died from an overdose in Milwaukee County that involved fentanyl.

In response to this growing nationwide epidemic, in 2018 the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an emergency order that made all fentanyl, and fentanyl-related substances scheduled, and illegal.

Fentanyl is an opioid that is made in a lab that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.

This law made it so that even if criminals tweaked how the fentanyl was made— it was still illegal.

However, the DEA’s emergency order expires Feb. 6.

The Senate has already approved a 15-month extension, but it is now in the hands of the House of Representatives. If it is not approved Matt Kreuger, U.S. Attorney representing the Eastern District of Wisconsin, said it will be tougher to prosecute these criminals.

“If fentanyl analogues are not scheduled, then those sort of drug trafficking organizations would be able to be bringing in fentanyl-like substances,” U.S. Attorney Krueger said.  “If it’s not scheduled than it wouldn’t be illegal under federal law.”

The House of Representatives discussed the bill Wednesday. U.S. Attorney Krueger is optimistic they will pass it. 

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