In September, State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) announced that he’s putting forward legislation to strengthen penalties against fentanyl drug traffickers in the Yellowhammer State.
This comes as National Institute on Drug Abuse reports deaths from fentanyl overdoses are still rising exponentially. In the U.S., 56,516 overdose deaths were reported in 2020, a 56% increase over 2019.
Many Republicans are pointing directly to an unsecure southern border as the main cause of the increase in fentanyl trafficking.
Wednesday on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program,” Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said Alabamians are seeing the effects of the border crisis across the state.
“The crossing of that border and the drugs that come across it (are) affecting not only Huntsville and Alabama, it’s affecting the entire country,” Turner said. “I think everyone is seeing the effects of what’s going on at the border.”
The sheriff talked about how he personally had to address the increase in fentanyl trafficking and overdose deaths just in Madison County.
“It is one of the drugs that has just really came on in the last year and a half,” he said. “I know just in my direct unit alone they just took off a pound of it just last year. I know the Madison (and) Morgan County STAC team that we partner with, they took off 11 pounds of it. So you know we see it through coming through the interstates, we see it coming through the Postal Service, and it’s making it’s way through Huntsville. They are lacing it with heroin, they’re lacing it in the cocaine, they’re doing everything in their power to get it on the streets and it’s probably one of the most deadly drugs that we’ve ever dealt with.”
Turner said it’s just common sense for the Legislature to pass stricter sentencing laws on those who are selling the drug in Alabama.
“Absolutely it’s a no brainer,” he said. “That fentanyl, you can touch it … I’ve had deputies pat people down and I’ve had to take them to the ER because they were on the verge of passing out themselves; they were under the influence after just touching it. It can kill you. It’s amazing how strong that drug is and they’re out here lacing it with marijuana and cocaine and heroin and selling it to people and it’s killing people. It’s amazing how many people and our deputies have to respond to calls and administer Narcan to save their life just to get them to the hospital off of overdoses.”
He also took the time to rebuff those who believe this is not that serious of an issue.
“It is not fearmongering,” he said. “I spent 22 years…working the streets of this community. I was over our gang task force, I worked in our STAC unit, I’ve kicked doors in for the drug unit, I know first hand. I’m not far removed from working the streets and knowing on a daily basis what’s on our streets.
“I still get calls from informants on the streets working these kind of cases. This is not fearmongering.”
Turner is opposed by Libertarian Alan Barksdale in the race for sheriff.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect Alan Barksdale’s correct party affiliation.