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Gov. Sununu Blames Lawrence For New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

LAWRENCE (CBS) - It became a heated war of words between Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu who blames the city for being an opioid pipeline to the Granite State.

"Eighty-five percent of fentanyl in this state is coming straight out of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Guess what? We're going in," Sununu told a group of New Hampshire business leaders this week.

"I'm not sure he meant to threaten the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but he did," said Rivera.

Dan Rivera
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera (WBZ-TV)

Sununu has also questioned the decision by Lawrence to become a sanctuary city, claiming it's harboring illegal aliens who are dealing drugs and then getting off easy in the courts.

"Undocumented drug dealers are dealing drugs, getting arrested and they're being given bail by judges," Sununu told Boston Herald Radio. "I can't understand how they're getting bail from the judges in Massachusetts."

Governor Chris Sununu
Chris Sununu. (Photo credit: Chris Sununu for Governor - Facebook)

Rivera says Lawrence is not alone in battling the opioid crisis. Deanna Cruz with the Lawrence-Methuen Community Coalition says it's a stigma that's a disservice to those who are addicted. "When people hear those statements that stigmatize their use they feel it is some fault of their own, that they're not good enough to access treatment, and not good enough to seek treatment," Cruz said.

Mayor Rivera says he reached out twice to the Governor's office trying to speak with him and finally had a conversation Thursday. In what appeared to be an olive branch Governor Sununu said in a statement, "I am encouraged by my conversation with the mayor and have invited him to join me in developing a plan that will find solutions to this problem in both of our communities."

Rivera invited the governor to come to Lawrence and see what efforts the city is making. "We're trying really hard to make Lawrence an inhospitable place to buy and sell drugs," Rivera said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Doug Cope Reports

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