Opioid epidemic: DEA says fentanyl pill seizures on the rise in Arizona

Posted at 9:39 PM, May 06, 2018

The opioid crisis in Arizona and across the country is reaching a new high, as the amount of Fentanyl pill seizures continues to climb. The DEA taking 121,000 counterfeit pills off the streets in 2017 alone. 

The pills are made to look identical to popular prescriptions prescribed by doctors. They are sold on the streets to users looking for a prescription high. 

"People think they're taking a legitimate pill and they're taking Fentanyl, which is so strong, it's going to kill you," said Arizona DEA spokeswoman Erica Curry. "We've heard of some Percocet, we've seen some Xanax and Hydroconde pills as well."

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than Heroin. A tiny dose, such as the amount that can sit on the tip of a finger, can have deadly results. 

Fentanyl pills emerged on the drug scene just last year, and it's exploded ever since. 

"It's definitely increased significantly," Curry said. "We seized over 120,000 Fentanyl pills just last year. And when you actually think about that, 120,000 pills that can kill people, that's an extraordinary amount that we're seeing here."

The DEA says the ingredients are cheap to buy over the internet in places like China. Then the actual Fentanyl is made in Mexico and comes across the border. 

"The cost for the cartel is minimal, and the profit is extreme," said Curry. 

But the damage done by the Fentanyl pills expands far beyond Arizona.

"The drugs that we've seized here have an impact on the rest of the United States," said Curry. "Because people are dying in Ohio. They're dying in New Hampshire. They're dying all over the east coast from these blue Fentanyl pills."

For this drug and this issue, the DEA says it is taking a broader approach. Agents are going after the manufactures, as well as the street dealers.