Federal authorities seized enough lethal doses of fentanyl to kill 32 million Americans during a single sting operation in New York City last month.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents working with local police made the grab during a raid Aug. 1, finding 140 pounds of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Bridget Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, announced the record haul Monday, along with the additional seizure of 55 pounds of fentanyl and 75 pounds of heroin and cocaine during a separate raid Sept. 5, reports NBC New York.
Authorities estimate that the 270 pounds of total narcotics seized in New York City over the past month carries a street value of more than $30 million. Brennan said they seized enough lethal doses of fentanyl to kill 32 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population.
“The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking,” Brennan said in a statement released Monday. “It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast.”
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse released Sept. 7 paints a grim outlook for the current opioid crisis ravaging American communities. The number of active heroin users in the U.S. more than doubled between 2002 and 2016 from 404,000 to 948,000, according to the data, driven primarily by the massive influx of fentanyl.
The study predicts the addiction epidemic in America will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.
The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released its first preliminary report in August giving an accounting of drug overdose deaths in 2016. The CDC estimates that drug deaths rose by more than 22 percent in 2016, with 64,070 Americans overdosing that year. Opioid deaths rose from 33,000 in 2015 to nearly 50,000 in 2016.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under 50.
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