Sarlo wants stiffer penalties for fentanyl dealers

Acting to crack down on drug dealers who are fueling the ongoing surge of overdose deaths with fentanyl, state Sen. Paul Sarlo is introducing legislation that would toughen legal penalties for selling the highly-potent drug.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office recently arrested a man in possession of 15 pounds of fentanyl, — enough to produce 3.5 million deadly doses — and six pounds of heroin, the equivalent of 27,000 decks. It takes only a single two-milligram dose of fentanyl to kill a person.

Dealers often add fentanyl to heroin and other drugs to increase the potency.

“Drug overdoses have become a leading cause of death in recent years and fentanyl is the deadly ingredient that is taking a terrible toll of lives lost or destroyed,” Sarlo said. “This one dealer alone had enough fentanyl to kill a countless number of vulnerable users. Selling fentanyl on the street is comparable to shooting people with a high-capacity firearm. We have to increase the penalties to take these drug dealers off the streets.”

Sarlo’s bill would make it a first-degree crime to sell, possess or manufacture more than 10 grams of fentanyl, and a crime of the second degree for any amount up to 10 grams. First-degree crimes are subject to 20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000, and five to 10 years and $150,000 for second degree.

More than 3,000 people died of overdoses in New Jersey last year, according to the State Medical Examiner, with more than 107,000 drug fatalities nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The deadly fentanyl was the primary cause of death in most cases, according to public health officials.

In the aforementioned case, the dealer, Carlo Francisco Olivar Gomez, was taken into custody by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, along with Ridgefield Park Police Department with the assistance of a Bergen County Regional SWAT team.

“I want to commend the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the other law enforcement officers who made this arrest,” Sarlo said. “Tougher penalties will help keep him and other dealers off the streets.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.