Fentanyl: the ultra-powerful synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
Fentanyl has contributed largely to the recent increase in opioid abuse and overdoses due to illicit drug suppliers using it as a cheap means of cutting heroin supplies. The consequences have been lethal in the United States: from small towns to major cities, no area of the United States is unaffected.
In an effort to cut the supply off at the source, U.S. officials in the Drug Enforcement Administration traveled to China recently to reach an agreement regarding plans to stop illegal Fentanyl trafficking in the country. China is the world’s leading producer of Fentanyl, with a majority of the supply intended for medical use in extreme cases of pain. As a synthetic opioid, Fentanyl was initially intended for patients with severe, chronic pain conditions, patients who had undergone extensive surgery, and end-stage cancer patients.
On the streets, Fentanyl poses a serious threat. Highly addictive and difficult to moderate, most people who fall victim to overdoses caused by Fentanyl don’t even know they’ve taken it. While public warnings and outreach programs have been set into place in some of the most heavily hit areas, reducing the supply would go a great deal farther in saving lives.
In all, 14 delegates made the trip to China in this mission to attack the Fentanyl abuse problem from both ends. Reaching an agreement that includes DEA agents training Chinese drug officers to recognize signs of illegal Fentanyl trade such as financial irregularities and money laundering, Deputy Chief of Operations Lizette Yrizarry is confident the outcome will show a positive impact on the current drug crisis in the United States.