The fentanyl crisis, as of summer 2022, is hitting the United States harder than any other drug epidemic in history, according to the DEA and nationwide state law enforcement.
“There’s enough fentanyl in the United States to kill every single American with a deadly dose,” the DEA tells Fox, “it’s everywhere.”
It is not a problem of prescription pills, but the illicit/illegally manufactured raw fentanyl that is often being shipped to the U.S. over a variety of international borders. The supply chain in this industry, like so many others, also appears to begin in China.
“In Mexico, criminal drug trafficking networks, we often refer to them as cartels, they’re sourcing chemicals from Chinese chemical companies – unregulated companies mostly,” according to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. Once those raw materials make their way to Mexico, she says that is “where they’re actually manufacturing [the] illegal fentanyl, and methamphetamine, that’s then flooding into the United States.”
For local law enforcement, even in states without any international borders, the uptick has been staggering. In just the first half of 2022, Captain Bill Barkley says he and the Colorado State Patrol’s Smuggling Trafficking Interdiction Section have “seized over 367 pounds of fentanyl, which is a 389% increase over last year.”
Mexico may be hundreds of miles away, but Captain Barkley adds that “the majority of our seizures [in Colorado] come from the cartels in Mexico.”
While Captain Barkley was filming with Fox, a K-9 unit was dispatched to a traffic stop just 25 miles up I-70. While Barkley was inside with cameras rolling, members of his section were seizing 7.5 pounds of heroin, and 1,200 pills containing fentanyl, from a vehicle they determined was headed to Denver.
US Attorney General Josh Stein, from North Carolina, said that the fentanyl crisis is taking a much more grim toll. “Nearly three-quarters of all deaths are linked to fentanyl,” Stein says. Making matters worse, however, is the fact that “it’s killing America’s youth… More than three-quarters of all teens who are dying of overdoses have fentanyl in their system, which is a likely cause of that overdose.”