Arizona bill would charge drug dealers that cause overdoses with Class 1 felonies

Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley, concentrates on his computer during a vote on the Arizona budget at the Arizona Capitol Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Ross D. Franklin / AP

Arizona State Rep. Quang Nguyen is sponsoring legislation that would take strict action against fentanyl trafficking and drug dealing crimes, particularly when they involve an overdose death.

House Bill 2167 would make drug trafficking homicide a Class 1 felony punishable by a minimum of 10 years and up to 25 years. If the person has previously committed drug trafficking homicide or had a violent Class 2 or 3 felony conviction, they could face a maximum of 29 years behind bars. 

“The safety of the people in our state is my top priority,” Nguyen, who is the chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee said, according to a news release.

“Fentanyl is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year and destroying families. It’s a public crisis that should unite political parties to act urgently. We are in a war to save lives,” he continued.

The bill classified a death as a drug trafficking homicide if the sale of the drug was part of the reason why a victim died.

As of 2021, more than 2,000 Arizonans died from an opioid overdose, and fentanyl is the top culprit, according to an Arizona Department of Health Services report. Sixty-seven percent of “drug overdoses” and “drug poisonings” in the United States were the result of opioids such as fentanyl, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration data from January 2021 to January 2022. 

Nguyen’s legislation is also known as the Ashley Dunn Act, in honor of a woman from Yavapai County who died from “fentanyl-tainted narcotics,” according to a news release. 

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.