New figures from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) show a sharp uptick in the amount of fentanyl that is ending up on streets throughout the United States.
In 2016, authorities seized twice as many drugs that contained fentanyl than they did the year prior, CNN reported.
The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), a DEA program, found that in 2015 there were 15,209 lab submissions that tested positive for fentanyl to 31,700 in 2016.
The DEA lists fentanyl as a Schedule II synthetic opioid that was originally designed to serve as a powerful painkiller and anesthetic. Due to its potency – 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more than heroin – it is rapidly becoming a highly sought after drug for abuse.
“Illicit fentanyl, likely manufactured in Mexico or China and then smuggled into the United States, is responsible for the current overdose epidemic. It is usually mixed into heroin products, or pressed into counterfeit prescription pills, often without the users’ awareness, which leads to overdose incidents,” the DEA reported.
Law enforcement agencies are also starting to see a surge in the number of fentanyl analogues in lab results.
“In addition, lab testing of fentanyl analogues — drugs with close structural resemblance and similar effects to fentanyl — went from 2,230 in 2015 to 4,782 in 2016,” CNN noted.
The deadliest fentanyl analogue that law enforcement is currently facing is carfentanil – a tranquilizer designed to put down 14,000-pound elephants – which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, Breitbart Texas previously reported.
In a report from the Daily Mail, Chuck Rosenberg, the Acting Administrator at the DEA, said that fentanyl in the United States is reaching “historic proportions.”
“Sadly, this report reconfirms that opioids such as heroin and fentanyl – and diverted prescription pain pills – are killing people in this country at a horrifying rate,” Rosenberg said. “We face a public health crisis of historic proportions. Countering it requires a comprehensive approach that includes law enforcement, education, and treatment.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year, more than 52,000 Americans died from drug overdoses – 33,000 coming from opioids like fentanyl and heroin. More people die every year from “opioid-related causes than from gun homicides and traffic fatalities – combined,” CNN added.
Ryan Saavedra is a contributor for Breitbart Texas and can be found on Twitter at @RealSaavedra.