DEA Alerts: Over one million deadly fentanyl pills seized by DEA Phoenix and Arizona law enforcement this year
PHOENIX – United States Drug Enforcement Administration Phoenix Division Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman is alerting all citizens to the cumulative seizure of approximately 1,138,288 illicitly manufactured fentanyl pills by DEA’s Phoenix Field Division and law enforcement agencies in Arizona so far this fiscal year. In comparison, approximately 380,000 were seized in FY 2018. The deadly fentanyl pills seized by law enforcement are predominantly those designed to resemble oxycodone M-30 tablets.
“The proliferation of these pills trafficked into the U.S. by Mexican cartels and the sheer number of fentanyl pills seized in Arizona is alarming,” said Special Agent in Charge Coleman. “The DEA and our law enforcement partners throughout the state are committed to taking deadly fentanyl off the streets and ensuring those who manufacture and traffic these lethal pills are held accountable to the communities and families they destroy with this dangerous drug.”
Intelligence compiled by the DEA in Arizona first began highlighting the fentanyl pill seizures in 2016, when approximately 20,000 pills were seized during the course of that year, exposing a new trend in illicit fentanyl products. Previously, fentanyl was used in heroin as an additive to exponentially increase the potency of the opiate-based drug for the addict population. However, Mexican cartels began to manufacture their own fentanyl and press the drug into pill form as the primary opioid substance, marketing the pills as “Mexican oxy” to those seeking opiate-based pills on the street. Since the recent emergence of fentanyl into the illicit drug market, seizures of the drug by DEA Arizona and statewide law enforcement have more than tripled each year, since 2016.
The DEA in Arizona is further warning the community that the use of any pill not prescribed by a licensed medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist has deadly consequences, as the street fentanyl pills are nearly indiscernible from the legitimate pharmaceutical-manufactured oxycodone tablet. Overall, preliminary data from the Arizona Department of Health Services website shows approximately 344 Arizonans have died from the consumption of fentanyl since January of this year, on pace to possibly exceed last year’s 553 fentanyl-related deaths.
DEA SAC Coleman is encouraging anyone with information concerning the trafficking of fentanyl and other drugs to contact DEA or any law enforcement entity in Arizona. Information can be provided in person or by telephone to any DEA office or submitted anonymously on DEA’s website: www.dea.gov/submit-tip .