Although deaths from fentanyl plateaued in Colorado from 2021 to 2021, deadlier and more potent versions of the drug are being seized in record amounts in 2023.
“Fentanyl is deadly, and we are seeing new combinations of drugs mixed with fentanyl making it even more dangerous,” said Cole Finegan, U.S. Attorney for Colorado in a Thursday news release from the FBI. “Unless a drug comes from a licensed pharmacist, don’t take it. Your life depends on it.”
According to the news release, fentanyl remains the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Colorado, increasing by more than 70% throughout the state in 2021. Two milligrams of fentanyl, just enough to fit on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially lethal dose.
In addition to pills designed to look like legitimate medications, fentanyl is being distributed in powder form and can be mistaken for heroin or cocaine, according to the news release. It can also come in liquid form and has been found and seized in Colorado as a nasal spray.
“Mexican cartels are responsible for the majority of fentanyl seized in Colorado,” the news release stated. “As a way to introduce fentanyl into the market, the cartel adulterated other illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. However, fentanyl is now being adulterated with Xylazine.”
About 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in 2022 contained Xylazine: a sedative authorized in the United States for veterinary use. These percentages have continued to grow in 2023, according to Thursday’s news release.
Since Xylazine is not an opioid, Naloxone may not work to reverse an overdose, the news release stated.
The DEA Rocky Mountain Division has seized nearly 1 million deadly doses of fentanyl pills from the community so far in 2023, and the numbers don’t seem to be slowing down, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge David Olesky said.
“We remain extremely concerned as increased deadly fentanyl supplies at historic low prices are expected to continue fueling the illicit drug trade in Colorado communities,” said Keith Weis, executive director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
For more information and free resources, officials encourage the public to visit the One Pill Can Kill Public Awareness Campaign at ww.dea.gov/onepill.
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