US law enforcement seized more than enough fentanyl to kill all Americans in 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Tuesday, underscoring the deep threat of the deadly man-made opioid.
The DEA said it had captured 50.6 million fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl and 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder during the year, calling it the equivalent of “more than 379 million potentially deadly doses.”
The DEA said fentanyl, which caused only a fraction of overdose deaths a decade ago, is now the “deadliest drug threat facing this 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,” it said.
It was the major reason for the more than 107,000 overdose deaths across the United States from July 2021 to June 2022, according to official data.
Owing to its low price and relative ease of production, fentanyl has supplanted prescription opioids and heroin in the illegal drugs market.
The DEA said the primary sources of fentanyl in the United States are the Sinaloa and Jalisco Mexican drug cartels.
Their fentanyl is manufactured in Mexico with chemicals “largely sourced in China,” according to the DEA.
Some of it is distributed widely in the form of counterfeit prescription drugs like Percocet, OxyContin and Xanax, they said.
Some 60 percent of the counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl that were tested by the DEA contained potentially lethal fentanyl doses, it said.