The U.S. Department of Justice had considered using fentanyl in lethal injections to carry out executions of prisoners, but decided against the use of the controversial opioid, according to a report.
Court filings submitted in August show the DOJ had weighed “the use of fentanyl as part of a lethal injection protocol” in 2018, Reuters reported.
In July, Attorney General William Barr revealed the department had instead opted to use a barbiturate called pentobarbital when the federal government resumes the practice of prison executions toward the end of this year.
“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” Barr said at the time.
The Bureau of Prisons has scheduled the executions of five men who are accused of murdering children to start in December.
Though the policy on the death penalty varies on a state-by-state basis, this will be the first time a condemned prisoner will have been executed by the federal government since 2003.
Two states – Nebraska and Nevada – announced in 2017 that their plans to include fentanyl in the states' lethal injections, the report states. The opioid is 100 times stronger than morphine.
In an August tweet, President Trump responded to China’s announcement of new tariffs by calling for parcel carriers, such as FedEx, Amazon, the United States Post Office and the United Parcel Service, to refuse shipments of fentanyl from China.
China announced in December 2018 it would be adding fentanyl products to its list of narcotics that would be under state control. White House officials later claimed the country was not doing enough to block major shipments of the opioid.
Following Trump's tweet, trade adviser Peter Navarro told FOX Business anchor Maria Bartiromo: "China steals our stuff, they flood our communities with fentanyl and everything in between."
The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.