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State AG: Stopping carfentanil distribution is 'priority'

New Hampshire Sunday News

July 15. 2017 1:20AM
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald (DAN TUOHY/UNION LEADER)

The state Attorney General’s Office is vowing to prosecute crimes involving the deadly synthetic opioid carfentanil “to the fullest extent of the law.”

That’s after the latest drug overdose figures from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner show carfentanil has “caused or contributed to” 10 deaths so far this year.

The deadly drug is intended for use as a tranquilizer for large game such as elephants. An analogue of fentanyl, it is 100 times more potent than that drug, which has been the leading cause of drug overdoses in the state for the past several years.

As of June 29, 143 drug overdoses have been confirmed by the medical examiner’s office, with 71 additional cases awaiting the results of toxicology tests. Fentanyl was implicated in 110 of those deaths.

In a statement accompanying the M.E.’s report, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said the 10 deaths related to the use of carfentanil are the subject of ongoing investigations and no further details are being released at this time. MacDonald said stopping the distribution of the deadly drug is a “continuing priority” for his office. Within the last month, he said, 18 individuals have been indicted for carfentanil-related crimes, including possession, sale and possession with intent to sell. And he said his office is reviewing 39 cases involving carfentanil.

The number of overdose deaths involving cocaine has also risen in recent years. In 2016, 63 deaths were attributed to cocaine; 49 of those also involved opioids, according to the Chief Medical Examiner’s office.

So far in 2017, there have been 17 cocaine-related overdose deaths; all but two of those also involved opioids.

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