RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced a new way to combat the opioid epidemic.

Stein is pushing for the creation of a Fentanyl Control Unit within the N.C. Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions and Law Enforcement Section.

Stein hopes the unit can help local district attorneys handle large-scale fentanyl trafficking, wiretap, and overdose cases.

The attorney general’s office said the unit would prosecute fentanyl and other drug traffickers and dealers in high-level cases.

Stein is still seeking funding to create the unit. He’s asking legislators to add prosecutors at the N.C. Department of Justice to create the unit,

“Fentanyl is deadly and highly addictive,” said Stein. “Even as we interdict more fentanyl at the border than ever before, too many North Carolinians overdose from fentanyl and are dying. We must hold those who peddle this poison accountable and take them off our streets. I look forward to working with leaders in the legislature to strengthen our state’s ability to prosecute these cases and save lives.”

Stein’s office says more resources are also needed in individual district attorney’s offices across the state to address all types of fentanyl prosecutions.

“In Buncombe County and across North Carolina, we have seen a sustained uptick in both overdose deaths and prosecutions of people responsible for bringing and selling fentanyl in our communities,” said Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams. “I applaud the Attorney General’s efforts to deliver more resources to prosecute people engaged in trafficking fentanyl, reduce use, and save lives throughout our state.”

If positions for the new unit are approved, the Department of Justice says it will offer fentanyl, wiretap, and overdose prosecution resources to all district attorney offices in the state.

In 2021, more than 70,000 people died of fentanyl overdose across the country. In North Carolina, fentanyl rose to become the number two drug found in drug evidence tested at the State Crime Lab in 2022.