POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - The growing opioid epidemic could get worse, as soon as next week.
That’s the fear of southeast Missouri authorities who met on Wednesday, January 29 in Poplar Bluff.
“This is for those that are preying on those that suffer from this disease of addiction,” said William Callahan, special agent of Drug Enforcement Administration.
Congress has eight days before “The Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues” bill expires.
“It allows us, our prosecutors, it allows our partners to basically go after anything that falls into the fentanyl category,” said Callahan.
Butler County Prosecutor Kacey Proctor said if this bill does expire, drug traffickers could easily get away with the crime.
“Otherwise the criminals could change the substance ever so slightly and then all of a sudden fentanyl is no longer illegal,” said Proctor.
Callahan said without this bill, it’s like losing your tools out of a toolbox.
“Anything that is taken out of our toolbox makes our job just a little more difficult. I think where it will make it for us is being able to arrest and prosecute traffickers who are changing up the analogues of fentanyl,” he said.
Poplar Bluff Chief of Police Danny Whiteley said it’s prevalent in this area.
“We have reason to believe that a majority of the heroin, and or fentanyl and so forth come out of the St. Louis area down to here,” said Whiteley.
The Butler County Coroner Andy Moore said in 2018 there were 12 opioid related deaths and in 2019 there were seven.
“Thankfully we are down five for the year, still should be zero, but you know our opioid deaths are down due to the prosecutions are up and what you all found out here for us,” said Moore.
And for these investigators, this bill helps bring the number of opioid deaths down.
“We are going to hone down and find them,” said Whiteley.