Federal authorities seized nearly 4.7 million lethal doses of fentanyl in 2022 in a five-state region that includes Minnesota.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Omaha Division released the alarming statistic Friday, saying the lethal doses were seized in both pill and powder form.
“The amount of fentanyl we’ve seized across our Division has far surpassed our totals from last year,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said.
The Omaha Division includes Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota.
“In some states, our totals tripled the amount reported in 2021. The lethality and seriousness of this drug can’t be talked about enough. Now is the time for families to sit down and have conversations about the consequences that can come from taking this incredibly potent substance,” King added.
Fentanyl is a highly-addictive opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin. Just two milligrams is considered a potentially lethal dose, which is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.
The DEA Omaha Division said fentanyl is now the primary drug threat in Minnesota.
Most of the fentanyl in the U.S. is trafficked by the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which mass-produce the drug at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely from China, according to the DEA.
Over the past two years, the DEA has seen a rise in fentanyl disguised as fake prescription pills that are made to look identical to real prescription medications. They said these fake prescription pills are readily available for purchase on social media.
In 2022, DEA laboratory testing revealed that six out of 10 fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
A 31-year-old Hopkins, Minn., man was sentenced to life in federal prison in September for his role in the deaths of 11 people who overdosed on fentanyl. Court evidence revealed that he obtained fentanyl from Chinese suppliers and sold it on a now-defunct website called PlantFoodUSA.net.
Gordon Chang, a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and an expert on U.S.-China relations, said each fentanyl death should be considered a “murder.”
“We’ve imposed no costs on China for killing millions of Americans,” he told Alpha News.
Minnesota reported a record number of drug overdoses in 2021, which the Department of Health attributed to the “rise in fentanyl.”
Deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased from 560 in 2020 to 834 in 2021, meaning most overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2021 were associated with fentanyl.
Border patrol agents confiscated enough fentanyl at the southern border over the last two fiscal years to kill 5 billion people. This caused a group of bipartisan attorneys general to unsuccessfully pressure the Biden administration to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.