Arizona Fentanyl seizures skyrocket

PHOENIX - The amount of Fentanyl seizures in Arizona is skyrocketing and now the DEA has to follow new safety procedures when they process the drug. Agents must wear a head to toe, fully encapsulated suit when responding to calls because even one touch can be deadly.

The DEA uses a specially designed truck to respond to Fentanyl calls, equipped to handle the lethal substance.

The agents must be outfitted in a bright yellow suit with an air tank so they don't breath the air.

"We now require all of our agents, when they are processing the Fentanyl, to wear suits like this," said head of the DEA in Arizona, Doug Coleman.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. Coleman says it's now an epidemic.

"I can cover the tip of my finger with a lethal dose of this," said Coleman. "Not enough to get you high, enough to kill you."

And the amount in our state is increasing dramatically. The Arizona numbers are pretty shocking.

In 2015 only a half pound seized. The next year in 2016 there was a huge jump, 62 pounds seized. And halfway through 2017, already 63 pounds has been confiscated.

"The first time you get high with an opioid, it's the best high you're ever going to have," said Coleman. "So they keep trying to find more and more powerful drugs."

The DEA is working with police departments all over the valley and training with them. If an officer comes across a white powdery substance, it's recommended they call in the DEA agents right away.

"They we will seal this paint can, drive it to the lab, drive it to the chemist and they have to get all suited up and unseal it themselves," said Coleman.

The DEA leader says, when they look at drug trends, it's likely that the number of Fentanyl seizures will keep going up, but they are going to do all they can to stay ahead of it and put it to a stop.
 

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