U.S. Attorney: Amount of fentanyl seized in Lawrence 'could kill half the state'

LAWRENCE, Mass. — More than four dozen people were arrested after 150 federal agents raided the city of Lawrence Thursday morning.

"During today's operation, we seized some guns, but we also seized over 10 kilograms of fentanyl," said Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. "The amount of fentanyl we have seized today could kill half the state."

Fifty people were arrested in all on drug, weapons and immigration charges during the early morning law enforcement sweep. The arrests fall under Lelling's Project Safe Neighborhood Program, which targets criminal hotspots.

Lawrence gets the unflattering nod because of its geography.

"Lawrence is clearing house for illegal drugs pouring into New Hampshire and Maine via I-93 and I-495," said Lelling.

That has created problems not only for the city itself but municipalities far beyond.

"Per capita, New Hampshire has the third highest opioid overdose death rate of any state in the union and Maine is not far behind," said Lelling.

Lelling says a large percentage of the drugs headed to northern New England originate here.

Lelling says there are two possible ways to gauge the long-term effectiveness of law enforcement sweeps like the one in Lawrence. First, if drug overdose deaths drop, and second, does drug activity pick up in nearby towns?

U.S. Attorney Lelling uses press conferences and the attendant publicity they provide because they may act as a deterrent.