Fentanyl-related drug overdose became the top killer among adults aged 18 to 45 in 2020 — overtaking suicide, vehicle accidents and gun violence, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by the nonprofit group Fentanyl Against Families. according.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent, highly addictive and lethal than heroin. Buyers may be unaware that the drugs they buy contain illegal fentanyl, a dose of 2 mg of which can be fatal.
The substance is often manufactured in Mexico using chemicals supplied from China and smuggled across the southern border by Mexican drug cartels. Fentanyl is mixed with other narcotics to increase potency as well as pressed into counterfeit pain pills that look like blue oxycodone prescription pills and are commonly known as “Mexican Oxis”.
Families Against Fentanyl is advocating for the US government to designate fentanyl and its analogs as weapons of mass destruction under federal statute.
The statute defines “weapons of mass destruction”, to some extent, as “any weapon designed or intended to cause death or serious injury through the release, spread, or effect of venom or toxic chemicals, or their precursors.” causes bodily injury.”
More than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending in April, according to CDC data. Fentanyl is involved in about two-thirds of those deaths.
During 2020, as lockdowns in response to the pandemic became longer and wider, overdose deaths accelerated.
“This represents a worsening of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States,” the CDC said in an emergency health advisory issued more than a year ago on December 17, 2020.
An analysis by the Well Being Trust in May 2020 projected a potential 75,000 additional “deaths of despair”, including drug and alcohol abuse, along with suicides in the coming several years due to shutdown measures.
This year, as the southern border became more porous, a record amount of drugs were confiscated by authorities.
During fiscal year 2021, which ended in September, Customs and Border Protection seized 11,200 pounds of fentanyl, up from 2,150 pounds a year earlier.
In addition, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported more than 20 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl this year, according to Cherry Oz, DEA Special Agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Division.
About half of them were confiscated in Arizona, she said.
“The Sinaloa Cartel primarily uses smuggling routes that run through Arizona,” Oz said during a December 16 press conference. “Phoenix has historically been known as a repackaging and distribution area.”
At the press conference, Oz announced the results of a two-month joint drug trafficking operation run by the DEA and the local Scottsdale, Arizona, Sinaloa Cartel.
“Overall, during the two-month boom, we confiscated 3 million bullets, 45 kg of fentanyl powder, over 35 firearms, and arrested over 40 drug traffickers,” she said.
Oz said drug traffickers are using social media platforms, posting emoji, and using coded language that has specific meanings related to selling drugs more efficiently.
“Smugglers are using technology to break into your homes and sell pills to your children and loved ones,” Oz said. “Look at their social media and educate yourself about the dangers and language of emoji being used online.”
According to the DEA, at least 76 cases recently involved drug traffickers using social media applications including Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The agency provides information on emoji decoding on its website.
Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther said, “It’s not just a drug,” it’s a “destabilizing effect in our country” by the cartel and their allies.
“And if people across the border can continue to exert this destabilizing influence in our country, we will continue to see that across the country,” Walther said during the press conference.
Congress failed to pass legislation that would designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline