U.S. Attorney General visits Tampa to announce new effort in war on opioids

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Tampa on Thursday to talk to Bay area law enforcement officers about the opioid epidemic.

Sessions told the group more Americans are dying because of drugs than ever before.

“Fentanyl is the number one killer drug in America. Scheduling and restricting all forms of this drug will make it easier for you and your agents to investigate and prosecute the drug traffickers,” said Sessions, who also announced new efforts to combat the problem.

“Last week, I announced a new resource to target traffickers who illegally sell drugs online. It’s called J-CODE: Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement team. By bringing together DEA, our Safe Streets Task Forces, our drug trafficking task forces, Health Care Fraud Special Agents, and other assets, the FBI will more than double its investment in the fight against online drug trafficking, dedicating dozens more Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts and professional staff to focus solely on this one issue.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was among those present for Sessions’ remarks.

Bondi says the fentanyl problem is the result of low cost and low quality addictive drugs being dumped into this country directly from China.

“They are making this stuff, heroin and fentanyl, in pill form. They are putting it in Adderall pills and Xanax pills. Drug of choice among college kids,” said Bondi.

She says parents need to be aware of what to look out for because drug dealers are targeting teens to get them hooked.

“Their goal isn’t to kill you, it’s to get you immediately addicted, which it will,” said Bondi.

While Sessions spoke, a small group of protesters stood outside. The group says they are veterans who are tired of seeing other veterans become addicted to opioids because they are being prescribed by V.A. doctors.

Jimmy Johnston with the group disagrees with the way Sessions is approaching the problem and believes doctors should be prescribing medical marijuana instead of addictive pain killers.

“In states where they have legal programs, opioid and prescription drug deaths have dropped up to 25 percent, suicide deaths have gone down another 11 percent. This drug, this plant, saves peoples lives,” said Johnston.

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