(Associated Press)  -  A new Massachusetts law makes trafficking of the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday signed a bill that was approved by the Legislature as one response to the deadly epidemic of opioid abuse in the state.

Attorney General Maura Healey said drug cartels are sending fentanyl into the state in ``massive quantities,'' and sometimes mixing it with heroin.

Until now, Healey said, individuals could only be charged with possession of fentanyl, but not trafficking.

The governor also met Tuesday with Chris Herren, a former Durfee High School basketball star and Boston Celtics player who has spoken publicly about his battle with heroin addiction.

Lawmakers are expected to consider other proposals for dealing with opioid abuse when they return from recess in January.