Enough fentanyl to kill all Americans seized in 2022 – DEA
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized more than 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl in 2022, enough to kill every single person in the US. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are currently killing over 70,000 Americans per year, according to government data.
In a press release on Tuesday, the agency announced that it had seized 50.6 million fentanyl-laced pills, a record number for the DEA. More than 10,000 pounds (4,535 kilos) of fentanyl powder was also seized, with the total haul adding up to over 379 million deadly doses – more than enough to kill the US’ 331 million men, women and children.
Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that is around 50 times more potent than heroin. Two milligrams of the substance is considered a lethal dose, making it easy for traffickers to smuggle potentially lucrative amounts of the drug across US borders, often disguised as branded pharmaceutical pills.
Two Mexican crime organizations – the Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels – are “primarily responsible for the fentanyl that is killing Americans today,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement. Milgram explained that the cartels mass-produce the drug in Mexico, using chemicals sourced largely from China.
Republicans have repeatedly blamed President Joe Biden’s relaxation of border security for the upsurge in fentanyl deaths in the US. A record 108,000 people died of drug overdoses in the US in the 12 months leading up to March 2022, up from a previous high of 98,000 in March 2021. Around 72,000 of these deaths were caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While these grim milestones were reached under the Biden administration, overdoses skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when Donald Trump was president. However, before the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, overdoses slowly crept downwards through 2018 and 2019, when some of Trump’s strictest border controls were put in place.
On top of the DEA’s seizures, Customs and Border Protection agents impounded 14,700 pounds (6,667 kilos) of fentanyl during the 2022 financial year, which ran until October.