The Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than 5.8 million potentially deadly doses of fentanyl in its Rocky Mountain division in 2022.
That is made up of nearly 2 million fentanyl pills and more than 150 pounds of fentanyl powder seized in Utah, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming last year.
Nationally, the DEA announced nationwide seizure totals of over 50.6 million fentanyl pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder, which it estimates is enough fentanyl to kill every American, according to a press release.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl is considered a potentially deadly dose.
The Rocky Mountain division’s special agent in charge Brian Besser, in a DEA press release, said for the first time in his 31-year law enforcement career there is an “oversaturated” drug market.
“Anyone, including our kids, can buy dangerous and deadly drugs at the click of a button. This is like nothing we’ve experienced before and it makes our jobs as narcotics officers far more challenging and critical than ever before,” Besser said.
In one Utah case alone, federal and state officers who served a search warrant on a suspect’s home and storage unit last summer in Salt Lake County, seized 5,000 fentanyl pills, along with 50 pounds of methamphetamine, 33 pounds of heroin, 13 pounds of cocaine and 17 firearms, two of which were stolen, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, the number of deaths in Utah involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, rising from 53 to 120. From 2016 to 2020, those who died from fentanyl use were more likely to be males ages 24–44, compared with those who died by non-fentanyl opioid overdoses, state data shows.
Not only has the number of doses seized spiked in recent years, fentanyl has become increasingly lethal.
In 2021, the Rocky Mountain Division seized just over 619,000 fentanyl pills. Last year, it seized nearly 2 million fentanyl pills and more than 150 pounds of fentanyl powder.
DEA laboratory testing in 2022 revealed that 6 out of 10 pills contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. This is an increase from 2021 when DEA lab testing revealed 4 out of 10 pills tested contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.