This is What is Fueling the Current Fentanyl Epidemic

Fentanyl History

Fentanyl availability and use is exploding across the United States and Canada. People are overdosing at an alarming rate and new users are getting hooked daily. Fentanyl started out in 1959 as a drug called Sublimaze. It was one hundred times more potent that morphine and was used to control pain through IV administration. In the 1990’s the fentanyl patch was developed. This patch was given to gravely ill people as a means to deliver long term pain relief.

Soon, addicts began to divert fentanyl from the hospital setting and into street use. As a narcotics officer, I saw people abuse fentanyl in a variety of ways. I saw people take the patches and put them in their mouth to absorb the drug and even one man who placed fentanyl patches over his entire body (he later overdosed and died). People have now discovered a way to extract fentanyl from these patches.

So what is the driving force behind the fentanyl craze? Referring back to an opiate comparison chart I posted awhile back, fentanyl can be compared to taking 500-1000 codeine pills or fifteen times more potent than heroin. That sums up why it is so popular.

But, a recent DEA report outlines another reason why the fentanyl craze is exploding. According to the DEA:

“Traffickers usually purchase powdered fentanyls and pill presses from China to create counterfeit pills to supply illicit U.S. drug markets. Under U.S. law, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must be notified of the importation of a pill press. However, foreign pill press vendors often mislabel the equipment or send it disassembled to avoid law enforcement detection.”

We explained this in depth in our article ‘How the Deadly Drug Fentanyl is Getting to Your Community’. I even put up a video that shows a pill press in action here in the US.

The drug is now being used as a cutting agent in heroin and has even been found in large shipments of cocaine coming from Mexico. As more addicts find the power of the drug, they will be making the switch to that drug.

The 2006 fentanyl crisis was fueled by a single clandestine laboratory in Toluca, Mexico, and once the laboratory was seized, the seizures of the drug and overdose deaths in the United States suddenly tapered off. The current crisis is fueled by China-sourced fentanyls and fentanyl precursor chemicals that are being sold to various individuals and organizations responsible for fentanyl processing and distribution operations; this scenario includes individuals linked to Mexican cartels and other criminal organizations that are not affiliated with Mexican cartels.

So how do we stop the current crisis? We need to stop the flow from China. For that, we need strong government sanctions to stem the flow. Until that time, expect that Fentanyl will continue to spread wildly across the US.


Related Articles:

How the Deadly Drug Fentanyl is Getting to Your Community

Author: Keith Graves
Keith is a retired Police Sergeant and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 29 years. Keith was named as California’s Narcotics Officer of the Year and is a prior winner of MADD’s California Hero Award. He has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor and is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292). Keith teaches both the DRE course and the Drug Abuse Recognition Course and has taught at the Police Academy. He has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges and currently consults POST on drug investigation procedures. Keith has held other assignments besides narcotics including Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, COPPS Officer, Traffic Officer, and 20 years as a SWAT Team member and Sniper Team Leader. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. He is recognized as an international drug expert and has testified as an expert in court proceedings on drug cases, homicide cases and rape prosecutions. Keith earned a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary's College of California and a MA in Criminal Justice. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry.

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