Tucson police seizing fentanyl at alarming rate

U.S. breaks record for most fatal overdoses in one-year
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 10:06 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Drug overdose deaths in the United States are at an all-time high and fentanyl pills are a key player in the increase. The Tucson Police Department is coming across fentanyl pills at an alarming rate.

“The price of the pills really reflects the amount that are in circulation,” said Captain John Leavitt, Commander of the Counter Narcotics Alliance for the Tucson Police Department.

Recently officers seized 9,000 fentanyl pills in Tucson. Captain Leavitt said Arizona is an epicenter for smuggling the pills into the U.S. He said fentanyl is the cheapest drug on the streets today which is leading to the uptick.

“People on the street were paying $14 or $15 a few years ago and are getting them for $3, $4 or $5 a pill now,” he said.

The drug has caused a record-breaking spike in deaths. He said people are overdosing at much younger ages. He said it was more common for 50 or 60-year-old people to experience the most overdoses in years past but now that isn’t the case.

“Now that bubble is moving down to 20 and 30-years-olds and even younger,” he said. “Yesterday we had a 15-year-old overdose.”

For the first time the U.S. surpassed 100,000 fatal overdoses in a one-year time frame between April 2020 to April 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The larger picture is definitely about prevention and treatment,” he said. “That’s where we need to make some strides in the next couple of years.”

The CDC says overdose deaths have increased nearly 30 percent from the same time period one year prior.

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