Fentanyl Overdoses Increase in the NM »Albuquerque Journal



Fentanyl pills found in people in the area. (Courtesy of the DA office)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Little blue pills are becoming more common in New Mexico, but while seemingly harmless, they have a fatal blow.

These blue pills are prescription pills, but not approved by a doctor.

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Fentanyl is also used in other products. Heroin, cocaine, and even marijuana are all mixed with the deadly opioid.

It only takes 2.2 milligrams to overdose on the drug, said Carlos Briano, spokesman for the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The dangerous part is that people may not even realize they are ingesting it.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is prescribed to treat extreme pain, usually in cancer patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is 50 to 100 times more effective than morphine and in the last few cases it has been illegally produced, often mixed with cocaine or heroin without the knowledge of the consumer.

The CDC’s preliminary data through May 2020 suggests that overdoses due to synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl, actually increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DEA is tracking seizures through fiscal year 2021, and by halfway through fiscal 2021 DEA has already exceeded fentanyl seizures for all of fiscal years 2020 and 2019 in New Mexico, Briano said. He said the fentanyl is easily made by Mexican cartels and secret laboratories in Mexico.

For very small investments – such as B. $ 5,000 – The cartels can manufacture thousands of pills that generate over $ 1.5 million in profit. Briano said the majority of the fentanyl they see is in pill form, with the average dose being 1.8 mg. About one in four of the counterfeit pills seized contain a lethal dose.

“I’ve heard Kyle Williamson, the special agent in charge, tell some people that you have a better chance of playing Russian roulette because it’s one of the six chances of death,” said Briano. “But with these counterfeit fentanyl pills you have one of four chances of death.”

In the last few months the 1st Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that the number of drug trafficking cases involving fentanyl has risen sharply.

In the most recent cases, prosecution has prosecuted a Rio Arriba man who was in possession of 1,300 fentanyl pills. a person found in Santa Fe with 900 fentanyl pills in their car; and a person with over 500 fentanyl pills at a local hotel, according to a press release.

Assistant District Attorney Russell Warren said the office had seen a dramatic increase in fentanyl since the winter of 2020. Over the past six months, people caught with large amounts of fentanyl and the number of people caught with fentanyl have increased. “Quick and scary,” he said.

“The scary part is that one pill can cause an overdose, and then we caught someone with 1,300 pills, that’s possibly 1,300 deaths,” he said.

Much of the fentanyl the office sees comes from cartels that make counterfeit OxyContin pills that are sold at a higher price. Warren also said he saw fewer heroin offenses because heroin users are likely to turn to fentanyl pills because they were sold fake heroin and are now addicted to fentanyl.

“They are being sold heroin with fentanyl because drug traffickers want people to be addicted to these drugs, because they can be produced more cheaply, and they are far more effective and dangerous,” he said.

It also leads to more overdoses because people don’t know they are consuming fentanyl, he said.

To combat this emerging and deadly problem, Warren said the DA office was filing additional applications to detain drug traffickers who were jailed with fentanyl during their trial. In honor of the judges, Warren said, they approved these motions.

Local law enforcement agencies have also seen this surge. Scott McFaul, commander of the drug enforcement task force with the New Mexico State Police, said he had also seen a dramatic increase in fentanyl.

McFaul’s region includes counties of Taos, Santa Fe and Rio Arriba, and he said he saw the most fentanyl elevations in Santa Fe County. To the best of his knowledge, the fentanyl appears to be driving onto Interstate 25 from Albuquerque.

He said they see the fentanyl mainly in pill form, but also in powder form – which can be easily mixed with heroin. Since January, McFaul said, fentanyl has landed pretty much everywhere.

“We see this with heroin because it’s cheaper and more effective than regular heroin,” he said. “They use this because it’s more bang for the buck. I think it’s the worst way to put it.”

He now said the U.S.-Mexico border will reopen after the pandemic. You see an increase with every drug, but especially with fentanyl in pill form.

Fentanyl was more popular on the east coast, but for the past two years, McFaul said he had seen the drug migrate west.

He said the state police are working closely with federal partners to prosecute the larger cases in federal courts as the penalties are generally harsher.

Jeremy Apodaca, public information officer for the Española Police Department, said fentanyl appears in regular interactions with people officers come into contact with.

For example, an officer could do a traffic obstruction and end up finding fentanyl pills, he said. The pills are not pharmaceutical and are made illegally. Fentanyl is also extremely dangerous because it can be absorbed through the skin. Even handling the pills can be a risk.

Police in Spain see these manufactured pills almost every day, he said. Apodaca said the department has seen a sharp increase in the drug over the past eight to 10 months, even when other drugs are added to it.

“It will create more demand and people won’t even notice (they use fentanyl) because they feel like they are getting better value … from one person or distributor compared to another,” he said .

An unsuspecting person could also pick up the blue pills to discard and absorb a lethal dose of fentanyl through the skin, he said. When someone sees something like this, Apodaca encourages them to call the police and not touch it.

“We have gloves, we’ll go out and pick them up,” he said. “We will handle it properly or dispose of it properly, depending on what it takes. And we are always available for things like that instead of someone getting hurt. “


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