ICYMI: Spanberger Focuses on Fentanyl Crisis with Prince William County Police Department, Hosts Press Conference to Warn of Increased Fentanyl Smoking

During the Event, the Congresswoman and Chief Newsham Spoke About National and County-Level Trends Related to the Use of Fentanyl

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday spoke alongside the Prince William County Police Department to address the continued threat of fentanyl-related overdoses in Virginia and across the country — including a sharp increase in deaths linked to smoking fentanyl.

In 2022, nearly 70 percent of drug overdose deaths in the United States — and nearly eight in 10 fatal overdoses in Virginia — involved fentanyl. According to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking has surpassed injections as the leading method of drug use involved in overdose deaths. From 2020 to 2022, the percentage of overdose deaths with evidence of fentanyl smoking increased by nearly 80 percent.

During today’s press event, Spanberger and Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham discussed the increase in fentanyl smoking and spoke to additional national and county-level trends that are endangering the lives of Virginians. Spanberger and Chief Newsham also discussed Spanberger’s bipartisan Providing Officers with Electronic Resources Act — or POWER Act, which she introduced in May 2023. Her legislation would establish a new U.S. Department of Justice grant program to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure high-tech, portable screening devices to quickly detect and identify dangerous drugs — including fentanyl.

“As someone who worked narcotics trafficking cases and tracked cartels, I’m deeply concerned about the threats posed by fentanyl. A new report that just came out last month from the CDC adds new color to the devastating picture of the crisis we face. This report lays out a disturbing trend — more Americans are now smoking fentanyl — and losing their lives because of it,” said Spanberger. “As we stand here in Prince William County today, the data are showing a transition from injecting heroin to smoking fentanyl.”

Spanberger added, “That’s why I’m working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to build momentum for our bipartisan Providing Officers with Electronic Resources Act — or POWER Act. This legislation would create a new grant program — one that would help local police departments, like the Prince William County Police Department, secure high-tech screening devices to detect fentanyl within minutes, rather than weeks.”

“From 2021 to 2023, we lost 177 lives just here in Prince William County to fentanyl overdoses — and we have another 47 cases where we’re waiting on toxicology reports that could potentially be fentanyl-related. During the same time period, that three year period, the police department administered Narcan on 71 occasions, and the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue had over 400 deployments of Narcan,” said Peter Newsham, Chief of Police, Prince William County Police Department during the event. “Our goal here today is to call attention to this crisis, remind folks that this is real. These are real people who are dying. These are real families and real communities that are being impacted. I cannot thank Representative Spanberger enough for calling attention to this crisis.”

During the press conference, Spanberger and Newsham were joined by Deshundra Jefferson, Chair at-Large, Prince William County Board of Supervisors; Kenny Boddye, Occoquan District Supervisor, Prince William County Board of Supervisors; and representatives from the Prince William Health District, Prince William County Community Services, Rappahannock Area Community Services Board, UVA Health, Inova, and Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE).


Spanberger has consistently worked to tackle the opioid epidemic and block deadly drugs — including illicit fentanyl — from entering Virginia’s communities, including by:

  • Giving law enforcement officers the tools and training they need. In May 2023, Spanberger introduced her bipartisan, bicameral legislation — the POWER Act — to provide state and local law enforcement with new devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs — including fentanyl. Also last year, she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to crack down on narcotics traffickers who are using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.
  • Cracking down on fentanyl trafficking at America’s borders and ports of entry. In December 2022, the President signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation — the Securing America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act — to strengthen America’s response to fentanyl coming through the nation’s borders and ports of entry.
  • Strengthening Virginia’s addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In December 2022, President Biden signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan Summer Barrow Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Act, which provides $900 million of support for programs that combat substance use disorder and addiction in the Commonwealth and across the country.
  • Fighting Tranq and holding drug traffickers accountable. In April 2023, Spanberger backed the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act, which would address the abuse of xylazine-adulterated fentanyl — also known as “tranq” — by empowering law enforcement to go after these criminals. Additionally, it would classify the illicit use of xylazine as a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Protecting Virginia children and teenagers from overdoses. Last year, Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation to expand the availability of naloxone — also known as Narcan or Evzio — in Virginia schools. The Spanberger-backed School Access to Naloxone Act — modeled after the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which supported the rollout of EpiPens nationwide — would incentivize the stocking of naloxone and training of staff on its safe administration in schools across the country.


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