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Attorney General Sessions tells prosecutors to seek death penalty in drug cases

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits families of opioid overdose victims and members of local law enforcement at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. March 15, 2018. REUTERS/John Sommers II
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits families of opioid overdose victims and members of local law enforcement at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. March 15, 2018. REUTERS/John Sommers II

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed federal prosecutors on Wednesday to seek the death penalty in drug-related cases whenever it is legally permissible, saying the Justice Department must ramp up its efforts in the wake of the opioid epidemic.

Sessions’ controversial mandate to prosecutors comes on the heels of a plan announced by President Donald Trump earlier this week, which called for executing opioid dealers and traffickers.

“In the face of all of this death, we cannot continue with business as usual,” Sessions said in a statement.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch)

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