Baker Proposals Target Synthetic Drugs, Witness Intimidation

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing to increase state penalties for the distribution of dangerous synthetic drugs.

The Republican governor plans to unveil legislation on Wednesday that would also toughen state laws on witness intimidation and solicitation to commit murder. He’ll make the announcement at a drug treatment and recovery center in South Boston.

The state Department of Public Health says the synthetic drug fentanyl was present in 81 percent of opioid-related deaths in the first three months of 2017. Fentanyl was present in only 19 percent of deaths in 2014.

Earlier this year, state police reported the synthetic opioid carfentanil — 100 times stronger than fentanyl — had been identified for the first time in Massachusetts in drug samples tested from Brockton and Quincy.

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