(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
Synthetic opioid responsible for overdoses has exploded in use…
One type of drug that has been mentioned time and time again in America’s ongoing opioid crisis has been fentanyl: a potent synthetic opioid that has been causing overdoses as the country deals with thousands of deaths every year from drug use.
According to the New York Times, the number of overdose deaths in the country in 2016 was 64,000. Deaths from drug overdoses jumped in almost every county in the United States with the highest concentrations being in the Appalachian Mountain area and the Southwest.
About 145 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses.
Fentanyl is making its way into the country via Mexican cartels trafficking it across our borders, and through the mail system by small-time operators selling drugs online. The primary source of fentanyl is China where there are thousands of rogue labs making the product. Mexican cartels buy the fentanyl and mix it with heroin.
The amount of fentanyl in the mail that was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2014 was eight pounds. In 2016 that had grown to 400 pounds. The drug is so potent that a few grains of it can be deadly.
The internet is playing a huge part in its distribution. When the Department of Justice shutdown the online marketplace Alpha Bay in 2017, there were more than 250,000 listings of illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on the website.
Easier and cheaper to produce than heroin, fentanyl needs no crops like poppies and can be made as strong as the maker wants it to. And it can be very profitable, the DEA said.
According to police, an overdose scene involving fentanyl can be so toxic, it’s dangerous to collect evidence. In Northeast Ohio, a police officer overdosed after he brushed a bit of white powder off his uniform. He had just returned to the police station when he had the reaction and it took four doses of Narcan to bring him back.
Narcan is being used more by law enforcement officers to save lives of people who have overdosed. While brought up in the last local election, Narcan has been largely used by bigger city police departments.
The opioid crisis is so bad that even medical professionals are being lured into addiction and are dying from overdoses. According to a Spokesman-Review story, 33 medical professionals died in the State of Washington. Most of the professionals overdosing are nurses, pharmacy technicians and sometimes chemical dependency counselors. Medical professionals usually have easier access to prescription drugs. When it comes to dealers, while cocaine and other drugs are connected to larger drug rings, Fentanyl is easier to make and there are more operators making it, meaning that bringing down a connected ring of dealers is difficult.
The Chewelah Police Department hasn’t ignored this problem and instead moved to be proactive when it came to drug crimes.
The city’s police department has gotten a K9 officer “Rebel” that has already made a big impact out on the streets. After extensive training,