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$4.7M going toward fighting fentanyl in California's Central Valley

California's Central Valley to receive millions in funding to fight fentanyl
California's Central Valley to receive millions in funding to fight fentanyl 02:17

STOCKTON — Millions of dollars are headed to combat drug trafficking in the Central Valley in the ongoing fight against fentanyl.

Fentynal has hit San Joaquin County hard. Just ask Sheriff Patrick Withrow.

"It's just been this uphill battle that's killing literally thousands of people in our community," the sheriff said.

It's a hard fight. Sheriff Withrow said the two biggest hurdles are soft-on-crime laws and resources to go after criminals.

"Even though we're taking thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of pills off the street, they just keep flowing in and flowing in from all across the country," he said.

Congressman Josh Harder, who represents the area, said fentanyl is a hug problem in his district.

To help, Rep. Harder announced that $4.7 million in federal funding would be going to agencies, like the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, in the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

So far this year, almost 6 million fentanyl-laced pills have been seized in the state. Still, many have hit the streets and continue to kill.

"So many of these overdoses are accidental," Rep. Harder said. "A kid buys what they think is Adderal from someone at school and it turns out to be laced with fentanyl, and they take too much and they pass away."

This money will give departments like Sheriff Withrow's the resources they need to go after the source of the drugs and work closer with agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"That funding allows us to go up and down the state, out of the state, wherever our cases take us to follow up and go after the people who are supplying the narcotics," Sheriff Withrow said.

Both men say the funding is much needed but admit more needs to be done to put a real dent in this huge problem.

Rep. Harder said the reality is that Congress isn't doing enough, but "this is an important first step."

"We need tough laws and people to be held accountable and held in prison for doing this to our families," Withrow said.

Rep. Harder also said that the number of overdose deaths for 10-19-year-olds in the Central Valley has doubled in the past two years.

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