FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Congressman John Duarte of Modesto is taking the local fight against fentanyl in the Valley to the national stage.
Several law enforcement leaders, including a Fresno County lieutenant, stood by Duarte as the Republican announced he is introducing a federal bill to bolster funding for areas where drug trafficking is frequent.
There are 33 of those areas throughout the country.
One of them is right here in Central California. It covers 15 counties, from Kern County in the South Valley to Fresno and Merced County in the North Valley.
"This is a very important nationwide effort to integrate federal, state, and local resources to interdict narcotics," Duarte said.
Under the new proposal, the federal government would spend more than 300 million dollars on those 33 high-intensity drug trafficking areas every year through 2030.
"For every dollar spent on the Central Valley HIDTA, it returns $712 in street value of drugs seized," Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said.
The bill would allow for more cooperation between local and federal law enforcement. It could also assign federal prosecutors to crack down on fentanyl, which may lead to stiffer sentences than cases tried under state law.
"When we do investigate, and we are able to arrest and try and convict these people, they do significant time in federal penitentiaries," Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp told Action News.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic painkiller, and its use is on the rise.
As Action News reported in "Killer High," the fentanyl crisis has devastated numerous local families, including Christie Hoffmann. She lost her 21-year-old son to the drug.
"I found Connor lying on the floor of our home," Hoffman said on Friday. "Sometime during the night, he had purchased $10 worth of fentanyl from a dealer on Snapchat and died."
Duarte's proposal is welcome news to victims' families, but it still has to pass through a divided House and Senate.
The congressman tells Action News he is hopeful it will pass with bipartisan support in the coming months.