Families witness signing of “Trafficking in Fentanyl” bill in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – It was a bittersweet day in Columbia, South Carolina as family members who lost a loved one to an accidental fentanyl overdose gathered on Tuesday with lawmakers and law enforcement to publicly witness South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster sign the Trafficking in Fentanyl law.

The legislation creates stronger penalties for high level drug dealers who traffic illicit Fentanyl in South Carolina.

According to the new law, those convicted of trafficking fentanyl or a fentanyl-related substance would spend anywhere from a mandatory minimum of 7 years to a maximum of 40 years behind bars, depending on the amount of Fentanyl they have and if they have a pervious offense.

The bill also makes it a felony to possess two grains of fentanyl or a fentanyl-related substance knowingly. A first offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, a second offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $7,500 fine, and a third or subsequent offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to officials.

It also creates a felony possession of a firearm or ammunition offense for drug dealers. Offenders convicted of possession with intent to distribute, deliver, manufacture, or traffick a controlled substance will be prohibited from possessing a firearm in South Carolina and are subject to up to five years in prison and a $2,000 fine. The firearm and ammunition must be confiscated and delivered to law enforcement.

The bill officially became law back in June and law enforcement have already been able to enforce it in York County, Chester County, and other parts of the state. According to SLED, law enforcement recently seized 44 kilograms of fentanyl in Horry County, officials say enough to kill the Palmetto state’s population four times over.

Many York County representatives were in the crowd who worked to get this bill passed, including 16 circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett.

He says the work isn’t done yet, as now they will work to help those addicted through meaningful drug court.

“We need to do better by the people who are addicted to this stuff, too. We need to provide quality rehabilitation opportunities for them”, says Brackett.

Brackett adds one person dies every three and a half days in York County from an overdose and the vast majority of those overdoses are opioid related.

Many parents from York County also make the trip to Columbia because they’ve been fighting for three years to see this trafficking fentanyl bill become law.

CN2’s Renee O’Neil has been following the journey of Holly Alsobrooks who lost her son Cody in 20-20 after he took just one pill laced with illicit fentanyl.

Although she says its too late to save her son, she hopes this new law helps others.

“I’m so proud of everyone here today, because we did make a difference, it finally happened”, says Holly.

York county representative Tommy Pope has been working for years to get a law on the books.

“This is one piece. You heard about the Drug Induced Homicide bill piece, Kevin talked about drug court and enhancements. What we want to do is enhance the drug courts. For me I want to come back and work on the drug court component to fulfill the promise I made on the floor”, says Pope.

Holly says her mission isn’t over. Her group, Fentanyl Kills U is now working towards pushing the Drug Induced Homicide Bill through the next legislative year. All in an effort to save lives and get drug dealers off the streets.

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