Drug Enforcement Administration


Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge

October 24, 2018

Contact: SSA Patrick Trainor

Phone Number: (571) 362-5391

DEA announces release of Pennsylvania opioid threat report

Pennsylvania opioid threat report

PHILADELPHIA -- Jon Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division, announces the release of The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania, a comprehensive assessment of the Commonwealth’s opioid crisis achieved through the collection and analysis of supply and demand indicators, as well as county level analysis of opioid misuse data sources.  The DEA Philadelphia Field Division partnered with the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation Research Unit (PERU), Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center (TAC) to produce the report.

The analysis of data and intelligence received from myriad law enforcement and public health sources yielded the following trends of greatest significance:

  • Highly potent, white heroin, sourced from Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), presents a persistent and pervasive drug threat in Pennsylvania.  However, fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances, originating primarily in Mexico and China and transported throughout Pennsylvania by various means, intensified the severity of the Commonwealth’s opioid crisis over the last several years.
  • The City of Philadelphia stands as a wholesale market for heroin and fentanyl transported there primarily by Mexican TCOs, either directly or through traditional source areas such as the Southwest Border States, New York City, Chicago, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.  Law enforcement investigations concluded that Philadelphia-based heroin traffickers not only supply retail distribution organizations operating in smaller urban and rural areas of Pennsylvania, but also reach beyond into other parts of the Mid-Atlantic region and New England.  Criminal organizations distributing heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania frequently acquire their supply from northern New Jersey, Ohio, and Michigan.
  • Analysis of law enforcement seizures and opioid-related overdose deaths shows that although heroin and fentanyl availability is and has been concentrated in the primary distribution centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the impact of opioid availability and misuse in the Commonwealth’s rural counties is equally, if not more, significant.
  • In 2017, Pennsylvania’s coroners and medical examiners reported a total of 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths.  This count represents a rate of 43 deaths per 100,000 population, nearly twice the national average of 22 deaths per 100,000 population in 2017.  Drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania increased by 65 percent overall between 2015 and 2017, largely attributed to the availability and use of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.

The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania, is available to the public to download.

Questions regarding this report may be addressed to Supervisory Special Agent Patrick J. Trainor, Public Information Officer, at either (215) 238-5193 or patrick.j.trainor@usdoj.gov.


DEA US Badge
United States Drug Enforcement Administration DEA.gov is an official site of the U.S. Department of Justice