Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect only one of the teens who overdosed, died. We apologize for the error.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came to Rochester Friday to announce plans to further combat fentanyl overdoses nationwide as well as in New York State.
Gillibrand, who was joined by Assemblymember Jen Lunsford and Senator Samra Brouk, revealed a bill to further combat the national and regional fentanyl epidemic.
According to Senator Gillibrand, the “Fend Off Fentanyl Act” will empower the U.S. government to pursue the cartels bringing dangerous drugs into the United States, and those producing and shipping the precursor materials.
“The [legislation] would target both cartels and individuals involved in producing and trafficking these dangerous drugs,” Senator Gillibrand said. “It will better empower the government to sanction drug traffickers and combat money laundering schemes that make this trade profitable. We have lost far too many lives to fentanyl overdoses.”
According to Senator Gillibrand, over 300 million deadly doses of fentanyl were seized from across the nation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Senator Gillibrand also laid out the specifics of the act, which would:
- Declare the international trafficking of fentanyl a national emergency.
- Require the president to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
- Enable the president to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
- Enhance the ability to enforce sanctions violations, making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
- Require the administration to report to Congress on actions the U.S. government is taking to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids.
- Allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
- Require the Treasury Department to prioritize fentanyl-related suspicious transactions and include descriptions of drug cartels’ financing actions in Suspicious Activity Reports.
Last week, 17-year-old Shannon Praylor Jr. was arrested and charged with manslaughter after two teens overdosed on fentanyl in November 2022. It was alleged Praylor, Jr. gave the teens the drugs, which resulted in the death of 19-year-old Paige Gibbons of Pittsford.
Paige’s parents — Kate and David Gibbons — attended Friday’s announcement, and thanked Senator Gillibrand for her efforts while emphasizing the importance of this act.
“The next step for everyone else out there is to start looking into mental health,” Kate said. “Finding more resources, starting earlier so that what happens in the lives of our children that makes drugs a solution can just be stopped in its place.”
Gibbons’ parents say the drug Paige thought she was taking was Percocet, when it turned out to be made completely of Fentanyl. They add the drug was sold to the teens via Instagram.
“We hope this [bill] will be just one of the positives that come out of losing our daughter. We’re heartbroken every day, minute by minute, and that pain will never go away,” Kate said.
So far this year, there have been 145 potential deaths related to overdoses in Monroe County, according to the county’s dashboard. The Gibbons family says they will continue to advocate, with the shared goal of minimizing the stigma and highlighting resources available in the community.