HOUSTON (KXAN) — Makers and distributors of fentanyl will now face harsher penalties in the state of Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 768, which will make the punishment for manufacturing or delivery of four to 200 grams of fentanyl a minimum of 10 years in prison or a maximum of life in prison. Meanwhile, the minimum sentence increases to 15 years for an amount of 200 to 400 grams and 20 years for an amount over 400 grams.
“Fentanyl is one of the deadliest drugs on the street,” Abbott said Tuesday.
The governor said Texas Department of Public Safety alone seized over 320 pounds of the drug in just the first six months of 2021 — Abbott said this is almost a 1,000% increase over the same time period last year.
“That’s enough to kill over 71 million people,” Abbott said. “Enough to kill every man, woman and child in state of Texas and California combined.”
In addition to pure fentanyl, Abbott said more and more other street drugs are being laced with it.
Abbott held the ceremonial bill-signing event at the Crime Stoppers of Houston office. He was joined by the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Joan Huffman. However, the bill’s co-author, Democratic Rep. Ann Johnson, was not in attendance because she’s among the Democrats who went to Washington, D.C. to block the GOP-led elections overhaul bill from passing.
The governor lobbed blame at Texas Democrats for leaving the state, saying they’re stalling another one of his priorities of bail reform. He would like to pass tougher restrictions on allowing suspects accused of certain crimes to receive bail. Abbott claimed seven Texans had been murdered by suspected criminals who have been out on bail.
A reporter also asked Abbott whether he would allow public school districts to require students and staff members to wear masks. However, the governor said he will not reinstate a statewide mask mandate even though COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising across Texas.
“We’re past the time for government mandates. We’re into time for personal responsibility,” the governor responded.