NACO, Ariz. (NewsNation) — As fentanyl continues to flood streets across America, the fight continues to combat and stop it along the U.S-Mexico border from drug traffickers smuggling the lethal drug daily.
Fentanyl continues to pour into Arizona; 833,400 fentanyl pills were discovered within two days by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Nogales Port of Entry. The Tucson area of operation leads the nation in fentanyl seizures, with more than 18.8 million seized since October.
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Two milligrams of the lethal drug, which is the size of a mosquito, is enough to kill an adult. The CDC said more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021, and more than 65,000 of those deaths were linked to fentanyl.
In many cases, the drug is ingested without the person’s knowledge. Fentanyl is easily mixed with drugs like cocaine and heroin, and illegal versions of the drug are often made to look like candy.
The flow of the deadly narcotic is very reminiscent of the cocaine epidemic in the 1980s. Fentanyl began as a more affordable alternative to heroin, but a much deadlier high. Like cocaine, the more popular the drug became, the more production increased.
“Opioid overdose deaths are nothing compared to cocaine overdose death. The morbidity and mortality, the risk of dying from using opioids is enormously greater than that of cocaine,” said Dr. James Besante, with Carle Health. “What is similar to the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s is stigma. Especially stigma lobbied against certain communities. We have seen the overdose epidemic in the United States of America has not affected all people equally.”
While cocaine originated mostly in Colombia and landed primarily in Miami to start, fentanyl is getting assistance from multiple countries. Chemicals are coming from China and the pills are manufactured in makeshift labs in Mexico before entering the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Trafficking organizations controlled cocaine operations in the ’80s just as cartels are controlling fentanyl operations now.
CBP is doing all it can to stop combat this issue, thwarting roughly $3 billion in drug smuggling efforts from September 2021 through August 2022. Agents seized 13,581 pounds of fentanyl at the border. Domestically, federal, state, local and Tribal law enforcement agencies seized at least 23,248 pounds of fentanyl.
The drug is increasingly becoming a growing threat to teenagers.
Besante encourages parents to have open lines of communication with their children, as using drugs during childhood is a big risk for developing substance abuse later in life.
A report by Families Against Fentanyl, a nonprofit spreading awareness about the deadly opioid, found that children under 14 are dying of fentanyl poisoning at a rate faster than any other age group.
Between 2019 and 2021, synthetic opioid fatalities led by fentanyl poisonings among U.S. children under 14 years old increased faster than among any other U.S. age group, according to an FAF analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.