Bill aimed at targeting convicted fentanyl dealers fails to pass

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For people like Flindt Andersen, fighting the fentanyl epidemic is a daily task.

"When you're talking about change, especially in the drug culture, there has to be big change," he said. "We don't have time to waste."

On Wednesday, Andersen sat and watched the virtual press conference where district attorneys across the state came together with families of fentanyl victims to fight the epidemic.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp was in attendance.

She says the number of fentanyl deaths is rising in Fresno County, so they are trying to educate children and their families.

"Many people do not know that these pills are on the street and how lethal in fact that they are," she said.

On Tuesday, SB 350 did not pass.

This bill would have given notice to convicted fentanyl dealers that if they commit that crime again and someone dies, they could be charged with murder.

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According to Smittcamp, local law enforcement is seeing an alarming number of pills on the streets in Fresno County.

They went from seizing 5,000 pills in 2020 to over 25,000 pills in 2021.

"The opioid crisis has been an issue in our country for many years and this is just an extension of it," Smittcamp said. "The ability for young people to get these pills is mind-boggling."

Children can access the drug without leaving their homes.

Smittcamp says drug dealers are using social media apps such as Snapchat to advertise the pills and they are using different types of cash transfer apps to deliver them to their homes.

The problem is the counterfeit pill.

On Dec. 27, 2020, Chris Didier found his 17-year-old son, Zach, dead at his desk.

"Through information on his phone, the detectives were able to find out that Zach, through the Snapchat app, had connected with a drug dealer to purchase a percocet pill," Chris said. "One percocet pill. Not fentanyl, but fentanyl disguised as percocet is what he got.

Families like theirs are ravaged by the drug daily, so they are demanding legislators to support policy changes in SB 350.

"And to the senators who keep shooting down these bills year after year, I believe your logic to faulty and shortsighted," Chris said.

"Let's hope it doesn't happen to your family because it can and it will at some point," Andersen said. "Is that what it's going to take for lawmakers to get moving on this? For their children to die?"

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