Just how deadly is the synthetic opioid fentanyl? It has wreaked so much havoc across the U.S. that the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security reportedly considered classifying it as a “weapon of mass destruction.”
The overdose deaths tied to fentanyl are indeed staggering. As a recent Yahoo Finance article pointed out, it is most certainly on the radar of leading Drug Enforcement Agents. In fact, former DEA deputy administrator Jack Riley made headlines this week for his strong statements about the drug.
“You’ve got to remember, fentanyl is 40 to 50 times stronger than regular street heroin,” Riley told the Yahoo site. “This is, by far, the worst drug I’ve ever seen.”
As we’ve reported before, fentanyl is now the primary culprit in overdose deaths across the United States (accounting for more than half). And as Riley added, street pushers are taking advantage of the cravings that lead to it.
The former DEA exec added that fentanyl has now become an easy access substitute for those addicted to painkillers. As it becomes harder to receive prescriptions, many who have already formed habits seek out dealers to get this synthetic substitute. Beyond that, it is also much cheaper than standard opioids.
The Yahoo Finance piece also delved into the geographic sources of the drug. Interestingly, one of the biggest sources of fentanyl shipments into the U.S. is China. In fact, China is not only the primary source of illicit fentanyl, it also ships over the largest amount of fentanyl-like substances. As the map below illustrates, the trafficking usually goes from China to either Mexico or Canada. From there, it enters the states.
Another former high ranking DEA officer, Mike Vigil, was quoted in the piece as well. His advice, in regards to shipments, was to work with the countries who are bringing it in.
“The fact of the matter is that we need to work with [China], and they are going to need help with a lot of resources in terms of monitoring the thousands of laboratories that are pushing that fentanyl and what have you,” Vigil explained in the article. “We really need to monitor these countries such as Germany, India, China, in terms of movement of precursor chemicals into the hands of criminal or transnational organized crime networks that will use them to produce fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.”