Arizona Police Seized 30 Million Doses Of Fentanyl During Investigation

After a three-year-long investigation targeting the Sinaloa cartel, the Tempe police and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized $13 million worth of drugs, including 4.5 million prescription pills laced with Fentanyl. Other seized drugs included 304 pounds of Cocaine, 3,100 pounds of Methamphetamine, 77 pounds of Heroin, and 145 pounds of Fentanyl powder. Police also seized 49 firearms and $2 million in cash. 

In a press release, the DEA states that the Sinaloa cartel is “responsible for nearly all deadly narcotics flooding into Arizona.” The Sinaloa cartel historically targets certain cities close to the Mexico-US border to mass distribute Fentanyl, with Phoenix, Arizona, as one of many significant hubs. 

DEA Arizona is laser focused on the Sinaloa drug cartel. We will not stop. This investigation is a testament to our strong partnerships which enable us to gain the necessary advantage over these evil criminal networks.”

- DEA Special Agent in Charge Cheri Oz

Fentanyl, a dangerous Synthetic Opioid, is one of the leading causes of overdose-related deaths in the US. According to the DEA, the Sinaloa and Jalisco drug cartels are responsible for further driving addiction and drug poisoning nationwide.

The Danger Of Fentanyl Distribution And Drug Cartels

The dangers of drug trafficking are immeasurable for various reasons, but the influx of illicit Fentanyl into the US has deadly consequences. As illicit Fentanyl enters the US illegal drug market, it increases the chances of individuals unknowingly consuming the deadly substance. 

Criminal drug cartels continue to cut substances like Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamines with Fentanyl and sell them as counterfeit prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Percocet, Xanax, and Adderall. Illicit drug makers cut their substances with Fentanyl because it is cheap and produces an “intense high,” but this manufacturing shortcut could be deadly to an unsuspecting consumer. 

Nearly 150 individuals die every day from overdoses related to Synthetic Opioids like Fentanyl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 107,375 people in the US died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 67% of those deaths involving Synthetic Opioids like Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than Morphine, and just two milligrams of the drug is considered a lethal dose, according to the DEA. Tests conducted by the DEA in 2022 revealed that 6 out of 10 fake prescription pills laced with Fentanyl contained a potentially lethal dose of Fentanyl. In 2021, the DEA found that 4 out of 10 laced pills had a potentially deadly dose of Fentanyl. 

The US drug markets are becoming more deadly due to Fentanyl. It is almost impossible to tell if a substance is laced with Fentanyl unless tested with Fentanyl test strips, and this precautionary step is not universally implemented. 

Drug Trafficking In America

Unfortunately, Fentanyl trafficking is not uncommon in the US, especially in Arizona. In 2022, the DEA obtained $22 million worth of Fentanyl-laced fraudulent prescription pills and about 1,100 pounds of Fentanyl powder in Arizona alone.

The Sinaloa cartel bust is just the latest in a series of major drug seizures across the US. Last year, the DEA announced it seized over 50.6 million Fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills and 10,000 pounds of Fentanyl powder during the calendar year. The DEA laboratory estimates that these seizures represent more than 379 million potentially deadly doses of Fentanyl.

“These seizures – enough deadly doses of Fentanyl to kill every American – reflect DEA’s unwavering commitment to protect Americans and save lives, by tenaciously pursuing those responsible for the trafficking of fentanyl across the United States,” said Administrator Anne Milgram.

According to the US Department of State, the US is deeply affected by the crime and violence carried out by drug cartels, and their actions undermine border security and inflict harm on communities. How to adequately address the ongoing epidemic of illegal drug use remains, but authorities remain determined to “take out” the most prominent cartel operatives. 

One Pill Can Kill

While statistics highlight the obvious dangers of Fentanyl, it is crucial to have open and honest conversations with loved ones about the dangers of Fentanyl, fake pills, and other illicit drugs. Fake prescription pills laced with Fentanyl are cheap and easily accessible on social media and e-commerce platforms, meaning anyone with internet access can purchase these drugs. Some may even receive counterfeit pills from friends, which can cause a false sense of security.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between a legitimate and fake pill visually, and taking the risk on any illicit drug could have fatal results. To help educate Americans about the dangers associated with fake prescription pills, the DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill Public Awareness Campaign in 2021.

While having conversations about the dangers of illicit drug use is an individual-focused solution for the rise in Fentanyl-related deaths, these conversations with loved ones could save countless lives. It’s important to remember that the only safe prescription pills are ones prescribed by medical professionals and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist; don’t give counterfeit pills the benefit of the doubt. 

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The damage caused by Fentanyl is difficult to quantify; however, there is hope for recovery for those using illicit substances. If you or someone you know is using illicit drugs, it might be time to consider treatment. Resources are available to help with screening, treatment, and long-term recovery from substance abuse. Contact a treatment provider today for more information on treatment options.

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Carmen McCrackin

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  • Carmen McCrackin earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Auburn and has over 4 years of professional writing experience. Her passion for writing and educating others led her to a career in journalism with a focus on mental health and social justice topics. Her main mission is to be a platform for all voices and stories, and to provide tangible resources to those seeking recovery for themselves or loved ones.

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