Fentanyl-related overdoses on the rise among military troops

(NewsNation) — Staggering new numbers released by the Pentagon show America’s fentanyl crisis is invading the military, not unlike the rest of America.

The new data, released in response to letters from several state senators, shows a whopping increase in the number of troop overdose deaths attributed to the synthetic drug. The Pentagon reported that in 2016, fentanyl was involved in 36% of fatal overdoses. Five years later in 2021, 88% of overdoses were fentanyl-related.

The deadly business is being driven overwhelmingly by the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, which produce and smuggle the majority of fentanyl into the U.S., primarily through the southern border.

Only about 5-10% of it is seized, according to DEA estimates.

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine told NewsNation that Congress needs to fund the tools to prevent more of it from coming in.

“We have the technological capacity to inspect every vehicle now, but we haven’t yet invested at a level that allows us to do that,” Kaine said.

In a letter to senators outlining fentanyl statistics, the Pentagon said, “drug abuse has a substantial impact on the degradation of Total Force readiness, not to mention the irrevocable impact on Service members and their families.”

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 65,000 of those deaths linked to fentanyl, according to the CDC.

Attorneys general across 21 states have called on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Mexcian drug cartels as terrorist organizations.

NewsNation digital reporter Katie Smith contributed to this report.


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