Growing fentanyl crisis is leaving ‘trail of death’ in its wake, federal officials warn
Law-enforcement officials said they’ve seen a spike in the U.S. opioid epidemic, and say it’s only getting worse.
Preliminary data shows more than 11,000 people died in the U.S. from natural causes in 2016, or 22.45 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than triple the number of people who died from prescription drugs, which were responsible for 8,680 deaths in the U.S. during 2016.
The vast majority of those opioid overdoses were caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that’s up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to experts.
In the most recent case in North Carolina, police say they’re seeing the same symptoms as patients in areas around the world that have been hit hardest by the recent fentanyl epidemic.
The man in custody confessed in a North Carolina jail to stealing fentanyl and heroin from a facility in southern Ohio last month.
Investigators seized the synthetic opioid at the time of the arrest, but they are now investigating whether it was illegally imported from Ohio to the Asheville area.
U.S. law enforcement officials arrested the suspect at an Ohio hospital on Oct. 7. More than 30 pounds of heroin and more than 100 pounds of fentanyl were seized from his person after he was arrested, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Oct. 11.
A federal agent and a North Carolina police officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Capital Region Drug Enforcement Task Force made the arrest, the agency said. The drugs were reportedly seized from a medical facility outside of Cincinnati.
Fentanyl was involved in 1,600 fatal overdoses in the U.S. during the first five months of this year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which also publishes death records. Nearly 8,400 opioid-related deaths were recorded in 2016, representing more than 21 percent of all drug overdose deaths.