WASHINGTON — In an effort to address the use of fentanyl in the United States, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday the Drug Enforcement Administration plans to temporarily schedule fentanyl-related substances and also subject those who possess or manufacture any related analogue to criminal prosecution.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid listed by the DEA as a schedule II drug, and is associated with a high risk of abuse that could lead to severe dependence. It can be mixed with or substituted for heroin.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said law enforcement and prosecutors will have the ability to make needed actions to stop the spread of the substances.

“President Trump has made it a cornerstone of his presidency to combat the deadly drug crisis in America, and today the Department of Justice is taking an important step toward halting the rising death toll caused by illicit fentanyls in the United States,” he said.

According to the Department of Justice, illicit fentanyl arrives in the United States from overseas manufacturers as well as across the southwest border.

The scheduling will go into effect within 30 days of the DEA posting a notice of intent and will last up to two years with the option of a one-year extension.

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