U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials seized more than 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl this year, which they say was enough to potentially kill every American.
The seizures included 50.6 million fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder.
“These seizures – enough deadly doses of fentanyl to kill every American – reflect DEA’s unwavering commitment to protect Americans and save lives, by tenaciously pursuing those responsible for the trafficking of fentanyl across the United States,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said earlier this week.
Officials from the federal level down to local law enforcement continue to stress that the powerful narcotic is the “deadliest drug threat” facing the country.
“It is a highly addictive man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, the small amount that fits on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially deadly dose,” DEA officials explained.
Two Mexican drug cartels, Sinaloa and Jalisco, are primarily responsible for the mass production and trafficking of fentanyl, officials said.
It is often made to look like real prescription medications like OxyContin, Percocet and Xanax, and the fake pills are sold on social media, on the streets or on the darknet.
In just one local case earlier this year, a 15-year-old girl died of a suspected fentanyl overdose at her high school after she bought what she thought was a painkiller.
Federal officials seized more than double the amount of fentanyl-laced fake pills this year compared to last year.
In Los Angeles alone, DEA officials seized more than 7 million fentanyl pills and more than 1,000 pounds of fentanyl powder this year.
Lab officials estimate that amount represents more than 38 million potentially deadly doses of the narcotic, which would be enough to kill the entire population of the largest counties in Southern California, authorities indicated.
DEA Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner called the region a “major transshipment hub” for fentanyl and other drugs, and for that reason, his agency is committed to saving lives.
“As people prepare to celebrate the holidays and gather with friends and family let us be mindful of the fentanyl threat that is destroying families across the nation and leaving empty seats at the dinner table this year,” Bodner said. “These seizures represent our tenacious efforts to make our communities safer and our ongoing commitment to save lives.”
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the state’s efforts to combat the ongoing opioid crisis, including investing more than $1 billion to address it.
Local law enforcement agencies and the California National Guard saw a 594% increase in fentanyl seizures this year compared to last, state officials said.
Specifically, 28,765 pounds of fentanyl were seized by local law enforcement officials, with support from the California National Guard. That has an estimated street value of more than $230 million, officials said.
“California is cracking down on the fentanyl crisis – increasing seizures, making resources more available to Californians, and ensuring communities have what they need to combat the immeasurable harm opioids have caused our society, our communities, and our loved ones,” Newsom said in a news release Friday.