Earlier this week, several students from Bernstein High School in Hollywood were hospitalized due to fentanyl-related overdoses. Two students were arrested in connection with the overdoses and the death of one student, 15-year-old Melanie Ramos.

Synthetic opioids, including Illegally made fentanyl, have become the leading cause of drug overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounting for “82.3% of opioid-involved overdose deaths.”

This counterfeit version of the synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain is known to be mixed with other illegal substances, like cocaine and heroin, “to increase its euphoric effects,” according to the CDC.

It’s normal to wonder where this drug comes from since it has affected many people and their loved ones.

China

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, China has been the primary source of “fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked directly into the United States.”

In 2019, Chinese President Xi implemented restrictions on the production and sale of fentanyl within the country.

These restrictions included “investigations of known fentanyl manufacturing areas, stricter control of internet sites advertising fentanyl, stricter enforcement of shipping regulations and the creation of special teams to investigate leads on fentanyl trafficking,” according to the DEA.

The new guidelines have the ability to severely limited China’s production and distribution of the drug.

Mexico

Transnational criminal organizations in Mexico have also been responsible for bringing the illegal drug into the U.S.

Mexican officials, working with the DEA, have ended the production of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills at multiple locations since 2018.

The Sinaloa and the New Generation Jalisco cartels are likely the primary groups responsible for bringing fentanyl into the U.S. from Mexico, according to the DEA. The cartels controlled areas where fentanyl production happened.

Drug smuggling happens across the U.S.-Mexico border and across “trafficking corridors in Mexico that connect to California and Arizona,” which these organizations control according to the DEA.

India

India has emerged as another source of bringing illegal fentanyl into the U.S.

Between February and March 2018, the production of the drug moved from China to India due to the fact that it was becoming harder to get fentanyl precursors (the chemicals known to make the drug) in China due to the country’s regulations.

In February 2018, the country’s government introduced fentanyl-related regulations similar to those in China.

In December of that year, four Indian nationals were arrested for the production of approximately 100 kilograms of fentanyl. The drug was supposed to be shipped to Mexico before authorities seized the drug and dismantled the production site.

This was the third time in 2018 that “fentanyl-related substance or fentanyl precursor was linked to Mexico,” according to the DEA.

Illegally made fentanyl continues to be a leading force in the opioid epidemic in the U.S. but authorities are committed to curbing the usage and distribution of the drug from within and outside of the country.