Cong. Tony Gonzales, Sen. Rubio Introduce Effort to Increase Consequences for Fentanyl Distribution

“Fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high. This deadly drug is widespread throughout our country and has left no community untouched. This bill would make drug dealers pay the price for selling deadly fentanyl.”

Texas Insider Report WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act. This bill makes the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death punishable by federal felony murder charges.

“Fentanyl is being smuggled through our southern border at record levels. Not only has this lethal drug led to thousands of American deaths, but cartels are now targeting our children and young people,” said Congressman Gonzales. “With the Biden Administration failing to resolve this national security crisis, it is time for Congress to take matters into its own hands. That’s why I am proud to introduce this critical legislation alongside Senator Rubio to ensure criminals who traffic this deadly drug are met with severe penalties under the law.” 

“Fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high. This deadly drug is widespread throughout our country and has left no community untouched. This bill would make drug dealers pay the price for selling deadly fentanyl,” 
said Senator Rubio.

The fentanyl crisis across America continues to kill and is now the leading cause of death among adults age 18-45. According to the Center for Disease Control, illicitly manufactured fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose deaths, accounting for 71,328 lost lives in 2021, up from 57,834 in 2020, with an even sharper increase expected in 2022. The Drug Enforcement Agency has called it the “deadliest threat it has ever seen.” Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl’s precursor chemicals often originate from China, after which they are manufactured into fentanyl and smuggled across the Southern Border into the United States. In many cases, victims are completely unaware a substance is laced with fentanyl until it is too late. Instead, dealers routinely and intentionally mix the drug with other substances including cocaine, heroin, and meth, or have it “pressed” into pills that are made to resemble authentic prescription pills that are often sold and marketed to unsuspecting youth.

Currently, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the primary framework for drug-related criminal charges. The CSA, however, fails to account for the extreme and potentially widespread deaths that can only result from fentanyl distribution. In fact, the CSA treats all Schedule I and Schedule II drugs the same for purposes of distribution resulting in death by mandating a 20-year minimum and no more than life, despite varying degrees of lethality, availability, and medicinal purposes. 

By contrast, felony murder is a charge that can be brought against an individual when an unlawful killing results from the perpetration, or attempted perpetration of, an enumerated felony that the law has historically viewed as inherently dangerous to human life. Felony murder is equivalent to first-degree, pre-mediated murder and requires a minimum of life and is also eligible for capital punishment if convicted. 

Dealing in fentanyl, like other felony murder eligible crimes including kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, and arson, is inherently dangerous to human life. 

Fentanyl incidents at the border have skyrocketed, with law enforcement seizing enough fentanyl and fentanyl-laced substances to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.

This bill would make distributors eligible for felony murder when the individual knows, or has reason to know, that the product being sold contains at least 2 grams of a mixture containing fentanyl, or .5 grams of a mixture containing a fentanyl-analog, and when it kills the user. 

Treating fentanyl dealers as murderers expresses the unique lethality of the drug, as well as its potential to kill hundreds of thousands as a result of its distribution.

China’s announcement to suspend any cooperation with the United States in preventing the trafficking of fentanyl and its precursor chemicals fuels the potential for a sharp increase in deaths from fentanyl and increases the urgency for Congress to act.

In the House co-sponsors include: Ralph Norman (SC-05), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Brian Mast (FL-18), David Rouzer (NC-07), Maria Salazar (FL-27), Carlos Gimenez (FL-26), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Bill Posey (FL-08)

In the Senate co-sponsors include: Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) cosponsored the bill.