DEA sends warning as massive fentanyl overdoses rise
By Lee Peck
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MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — Mass overdoses of fentanyl are at an all-time high as dealers mix drugs with the highly addictive opioid. Users have no idea they are taking the deadly drug, and the resulting deaths are accelerating out of control.
The Drug Enforcement Administration sends an urgent warning.
“We are currently in crisis. It is hitting our country very hard at an unprecedented rate,” said Towanda Thorne-James, deputy agent in charge of the AL DEA. “Specific to Alabama – absolutely – fentanyl is everywhere all over the state.”
According to the DEA, last year in the United States, more people died from fentanyl than gun and automobile related deaths combined.
Massive fentanyl overdoses – that is, three or more occurring around the same time and place – have recently been investigated in at least 7 US cities, resulting in nearly 60 overdoses and 28 deaths. Cities affected include Wilton Manors, Florida; Austin, TX; Cortez, Colorado; Commerce City, Colorado; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Louis, Missouri; and Washington, DC While none of the recent massive overdoses have happened in Alabama, they say it’s only a matter of time.
“It’s very addictive and very deadly. Drug dealers put Fentanyl in everything. An individual may think they’re buying cocaine or being sold heroin or methamphetamine… But that’s actually mixed with fentanyl,” Thorne-James said. “We know it’s here and we’re trying to get ahead of it.”
Even the smallest amount can be deadly. As the DEA works to get ahead of the deadly problem – not only does it warn buyer beware – it provides resources to help identify and prosecute dealers.
“I think we’re making a lot of progress in finding an overdosed drug to its source,” Thorne-James said. “And once we traced it to that source, we successfully prosecuted the people who sold it or put it on the street or helped get it to that victim. We so we did very well with that.
The DEA says it not only intercepts fentanyl on the highways but also in the mail and says it’s not just in illicit drugs, but also in fake prescription drugs.
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