Authorities in North Carolina confiscated a massive haul of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl in what officials called “one of the largest seizures in the state.”
Deputies with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Wednesday at a residence in Wilmington, North Carolina, seizing 13 pounds of fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Police arrested William McIntire, Charles Batts and Wanda Moore, who face a litany of charges including trafficking and conspiring to sell narcotics, reported Star News Online.
Officials said the fentanyl carries a street value of more than $2 million and suspect it was being cut into other narcotics for sale in the community. The drugs were packaged in a variety of containers, including an old baby formula bottle. (RELATED: Study: States Might Be Undercounting Opioid Deaths By As Much As 70,000)
“That’s enough fentanyl to kill everyone on the East Coast,” Sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Brewer said at a press conference Friday, according to Star News Online.
Data released by officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday shows the majority of opioid-linked deaths are the result of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The report shows synthetic opioids killed roughly 27,000 people across the U.S. in 2017, up from roughly 19,413 in 2016 and 9,580 lives in 2015. The sharp increase prompted a Health Alert Network warning from CDC officials advising of the ever-increasing presence of synthetic opioids in the drug supply, including in non-opioid narcotics such as cocaine.
The health alert warns that first responders may not be aware of the amount of synthetic opioids floating around drug supplies in their community. It says patients suffering opioid overdoses may require increased care and “prolonged dosing of naloxone in the ED hospital setting due to a delayed toxicity that has been reported in some cases.”
Nationally, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
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