HOUSTON, TX (CBSDFW.COM) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the ‘Anti-Fentanyl’ Bill, Senate Bill 768 into law today, Wednesday, July 21 in Houston.
“The crackdown on fentanyl in Texas is now law,” said Abbott after signing the bill.READ MORE: Killer 6 Foot Cobra Possibly On The Loose In Grand Prairie, Police Say
In a press release, the Governor’s office said the bill “enhances criminal penalties for manufacturing and distributing fentanyl in Texas.”
The law will increase punishment for the manufacture or delivery of 4-200 grams of fentanyl to a minimum of ten years in prison or a maximum of life in prison.
The minimum sentence increases to 15 years for an amount of 200-400 grams and 20 years for an amount of over 400 grams.
Senator Joan Huffman and Crime Stoppers of Houston Deputy Director Nichole Christoph were on-hand for the ceremony as well.READ MORE: For First Time In Nation's History, U.S. Customs Agents Intercept Rare, Invasive Beetle At Texas-Mexico Border
According to officials with the Governor’s office, one of the bill’s co-authors, Representative Ann Johnson, will not be in attendance. She is out of state with other Texas Democrats who left to break quorum.
Families rallied outside the historic Tarrant County courthouse in Fort Worth in early June, trying to draw awareness to the surge in deaths in North Texas connected to fentanyl.
Parents and siblings held pictures of family members who have died, many of them in the past year, as the drug has spread. Fatal in amounts as small as two milligrams, the synthetic drug is used to manufacture fake prescription pain pills, that often are indistinguishable from the real thing.
Fentanyl has led to a dramatic rise in overdoses in recent years. Last year, deaths from drug overdoses skyrocketed to 93,000, which was driven by the rise of fentanyl, according to a news release. This year alone, the Texas Department of Public Safety has seized enough fentanyl to kill every person in Texas and California combined — a 950% increase compared to last year. The rally came a week after Gov. Greg Abbott spoke about the problem when he was in Fort Worth last spring, announcing his intent to sign a bill making manufacturing or delivery of the drug a felony offense.
A majority of fentanyl is entering the state of Texas through the southern border.MORE NEWS: 'Lockdowns Are Wrong': Texas Gov. Abbott Reaffirms No More State Shutdowns, Mandates During Pandemic
“We have a duty to fight back against the scourge that is fentanyl in our communities, which is why I proudly signed Senate Bill 768 into law,” said Governor Abbott. “The Biden Administration’s open border policies have opened the floodgates for this deadly drug to make its way into our communities, but we are taking action to stop this epidemic. By cracking down on the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl, we will help save lives here in Texas and across America.”