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Dealers are shipping fentanyl from China for fraction of the cost of heroin

March 2, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Dealers are shipping fentanyl from China for fraction of the cost of heroin

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Drug traffickers are frequently ordering loads of fentanyl, a powerful opiate-based painkiller, from China at a fraction of the price of heroin from drug cartels in Mexico.

Fentanyl, which is known to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, has played a key role in the explosion of fatal opioid overdoses across the U.S. since 2010, The Daily Caller reported.

The drug is so powerful that even touching it or coming into contact can be lethal, and dealers continue to cut it into their heroin supply.

While a kilo of heroin from a Mexican cartel can cost a domestic dealer approximately $64,000, they can order a kilo of fentanyl from China for only $2,000, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Sending the drug via mail also cuts the need for intermediaries and saves the dealer the risks of working with violent drug cartels. The presence of fentanyl is intensifying the opioid epidemic and making it harder for officials to treat addicts.

“You can have all the treatment you want, but if they’re taking fentanyl…they’re not going to treatment,” Van Mitchell, the former health secretary in Maryland, told The Baltimore Sun. “They’re going to be dead.”

Maryland is getting destroyed by opioid abuse and authorities are struggling to fight the rising deaths from overdoses, which is partially due to the influx of fentanyl. Opioids took 1,089 lives in Maryland in 2015, but officials believe that number will surpass 2,000 when final statistics on 2016 deaths is released.

The presence of fentanyl is creating a new problem for police carrying out drug raids throughout the country. In the turmoil of a major drug bust, the drug can go airborne and poison officers. Police are now warned to avoid field-testing due to the risk of exposure.

Fatal overdoses from heroin quadrupled over the past five years, according to data published by the National Center for Health Statistics on Friday. They indicate that the extensive increase in heroin and general opioid abuse in the U.S. since 2010 is caused by lower drug prices and ingredients with higher potency, such as fentanyl.

Study authors noted that in 2010, only 8% of all fatal overdoses stemmed from heroin. In 2015, approximately 25% of fatal drug overdoses were caused by heroin. Opioid deaths contributed to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993 and exceeded deaths from vehicle accidents in 2015.

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