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Country singer Jelly Roll testifies at Senate hearing on fentanyl bill

The Grammy-nominated singer spoke candidly about his support for the FEND Off Fentanyl bill, admitting his own role in fueling the crisis.
Country singer Jelly Roll testifies at Senate hearing on fentanyl bill
Posted at 2:16 PM, Jan 11, 2024

Rapper and country artist Jelly Roll pleaded with lawmakers to stop the flow of fentanyl and curb the spread of drug addiction.

"I was the uneducated man in the kitchen playing chemist with drugs I knew absolutely nothing about, just like these drug dealers are doing right now when they're mixing every drug on the market with fentanyl. And they're killing the people we love," he said.

The Grammy-nominated singer, whose given name is Jason DeFord, spoke before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday.

The panel is weighing legislative options, including the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill targeting opioid traffickers.

"Fentanyl transcends partisanship and ideology," said DeFord. "I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I've carried of people I've loved dearly, deeply, in my soul. Good people."

DeFord spoke candidly about his support for the FEND Off Fentanyl bill, admitting his own role in fueling the crisis after spending years in and out of jail since he was a teen for crimes including drug dealing.

"I believed when I sold drugs genuinely that selling drugs was a victimless crime," he told the Senate panel. "Now I have a 15-year-old daughter whose mother is a drug addict. Every day I get to look in the eyes of a victim in my household of the effects of drugs and every single day I have to wonder if me and my wife, if today will be the day I have to tell my daughter that her mother became a part of the national statistic," he said. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The CDC says nearly 110,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2022 and estimates about 75,000 of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Most fentanyl is trafficked in from China and Mexico, with the DEA saying border seizures have jumped over 140% in just three years.

In 2021, officials grabbed over 11,000 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border, skyrocketing to 27,000 pounds just two years later.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story referred to Jason "Jelly Roll" DeFord as a Grammy-winning singer. 

SEE MORE: US Treasury launches launches new fentanyl trafficking strike force


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