(NEW YORK) — Authorities seized record amounts of fentanyl-laced prescription pills and powder in New York state in 2022, fueling more than 2,300 fatal overdoses in New York City alone, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor said Thursday.
Fentanyl is the most dangerous drug to ever hit the streets and the DEA’s New York Division, covering the entire state, seized 1.9 million fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills in 2022, a 152% increase from the prior year.
The agency seized nearly 2,000 pounds of fentanyl powder, the equivalent of 72 million lethal doses.
“To put that into perspective, throughout 2022 we seized enough deadly doses of fentanyl in New York for more than three times the population of New York State,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino said in a statement.
In 2022, cases handled by New York City’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor resulted in the seizure of nearly one million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, an increase of more than 425% over 2021.
“Thousands of New Yorkers are mourning precious lives claimed by deadly fentanyl last year,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said in a statement. “Fentanyl saturates the illegal drug supply in New York City and is a factor in roughly 80% of overdose deaths.”
Mexican drug cartels often press fentanyl into counterfeit pills designed to look like blue oxycodone pills, or in a number of colors, often referred to as rainbow fentanyl. The DEA issued a warning in August about the multicolor pills, saying they were being used to target children and young people.
Fentanyl trafficked by the Sinaloa and CJNG drug cartels is produced at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals largely from China, the DEA said.
The DEA announced in late December that it had seized a record 50.6 million fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder nationwide in 2022.
“These seizures — enough deadly doses of fentanyl to kill every American — reflect the DEA’s unwavering commitment to protect Americans and save lives, by tenaciously pursuing those responsible for the trafficking of fentanyl across the United States,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement at the time.
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