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Hobbs signs bill boosting sentences for dealing fentanyl

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(The Center Square) – Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs signed legislation targeting fentanyl dealers with tougher penalties.

House Bill 2245 sets a 5-15 year prison sentence for those convicted in fentanyl cases that “involves the sale to another person of fentanyl in an amount of at least [200] grams.” For repeat offenders, the sentence is increased to 10-20 years.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley, said in a statement that this is a major accomplishment.

“After three years of work, I’m incredibly proud to finally have the Ashley Dunn Act become law,” Nguyen said in a statement. “More than half the fentanyl seized in the United States is coming through Arizona. An alarming 42 million pills were seized in Arizona in 2023 – 70 percent of which contained a lethal dose. Fentanyl is wreaking havoc on communities, particularly in my home of Yavapai County. It must be stopped and more done to protect Arizona families from losing loved ones to it. This new law, giving law enforcement and prosecutors stronger sentencing tools to go after dealers, will help in that goal.”

At a signing ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, Hobbs touted the bill as well as House Bill 2017, which simply continues the state Department of Homeland Security. The ceremony hosted numerous sheriffs and the parents of Ashley Dunn, Josephine and Mitch. Dunn died of an overdose in 2021 by taking a tampered Percocet, according to The Prescott Times.

“Fentanyl is putting Arizonans in danger,” she said. “We can no longer accept the status quo,” the governor continued.

The Arizona Department of Health Services estimates opioids kill five people each day. Illicit fentanyl is commonly trafficked across the southern border through legal and illegal entry points.

In a statement, Attorney General Kris Mayes praised the heightened sentencing law.

“Our state has been flooded with this cheap and deadly drug in recent years, and we need more robust tools to deter those illegally selling large quantities of it in our state,” Mayes stated. “This legislation is one of those tools allowing for enhanced penalties for those selling over 200 grams of fentanyl, or the equivalent of 2,000 fentanyl pills.”

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