Authorities in Connecticut on Thursday broke up what they believe was a major distribution operation of the drug fentanyl—a powerful synthetic opioid responsible for the deaths of thousands of people across the country—in what they are calling a “groundbreaking” investigation into dark net drug sales.
In all, nine people were arrested and 2.5 kilos of fentanyl were seized, as well as two kilos of ecstasy, 50,000 counterfeit Xanax pills, 40 pounds of marijuana, $500,000 in cash and two guns. Authorities said the majority of the fentanyl found in New England was produced in China and sold in dark net drug markets.
“Fentanyl is easily sourced from China in bulk via dark net sites,” one heroin user told Vocativ in an interview for a separate story. “This stuff is also super cheap in comparison to actual heroin and is easier to synthesize due to it being a full synthetic and not needing access to heavily watched precursors.”
Drug dealers will often mix fentanyl with heroin to make it more powerful. The problem, in many cases, is that fentanyl is far more lethal than regular heroin, and users don’t know that’s what they’re getting until it’s too late and they overdose.
Connecticut is far from the only state in the U.S. feeling the effects of fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration has referred to its recent rise and contribution to overdose deaths as an “epidemic.” According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there was a 200 percent increase in the number of opiate-related overdose deaths between 2000 and 2014, when nearly 50,000 people died from drug overdoses.
That’s more than one-and-a-half times the number of people who died in automobile accidents. The majority of the deaths, the CDC said, were caused by opiates.
The investigation in Connecticut was the first time federal authorities have used wire taps to exclusively investigate fentanyl.
“We believe that this groundbreaking investigation has identified a major supplier of fentanyl here in Connecticut,” U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said Thursday.
By James King - Voactiv/May 20, 2016
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