U.S. Border Patrol agents reported a big increase in fentanyl seizures in the El Paso sector, seizing about 41 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal 2021, which runs through October. That contrasts with just 9.5 pounds in fiscal 2020 and two pounds in fiscal 2019, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents said fentanyl is very profitable, potent, and easy to smuggle into the U.S., making it a popular drug for cartels, according to NBC.
On the entire southern border, agents have seized year-to-date 769.4 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal 2021. In fiscal 2020, they seized 786.4 pounds.
The DEA’s Washington Division warned to expect more drug overdose deaths because of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, The Hill reports. They are sold as oxycontin, but are laced with fentanyl. Just two milligrams can be deadly.
Fentanyl is a significant problem. It is often ingested unintentionally and used to adulterate heroin and counterfeit prescription pain pills purchased on the street. More overdose deaths among cocaine users may be related to fentanyl-laced cocaine. It is cheap to produce and very profitable for drug traffickers.
Drug overdoses kill more Americans than car accidents and guns. Fentanyl is adding to this problem. Deaths from this drug and other synthetic opioids have increased from 3,000 in 2013 to more than 30,000 in 2018, according to researchers from RAND Corp. "It is much worse than a traditional drug epidemic; it is like a mass poisoning."
It is likely to get worse and more areas of the U.S. are being affected. Dealing with the crisis will take more than hitting the supply and providing treatment. It may require supervised drug consumption sites and fentanyl test strips.
"This is a new era. We haven't seen anything like this since heroin first hit the streets more than 100 years ago," said Bryce Pardo, lead author of the RAND report.
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