NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities say the amount of fentanyl seized in drug-trafficking investigations in the state of New York continues to increase at an alarming rate, underscoring how the pandemic hasn’t slowed a booming market for the potent synthetic opioid.
Seizures of methamphetamine — another highly addictive synthetic street drug blamed in a national surge in overdose deaths — also are on a steep rise, according to Drug Enforcement Administration numbers released Tuesday.
There were 404 kilograms (890 pounds) of fentanyl seized in the state in fiscal year 2020, a 59% increase, the DEA said. The total for meth was up 214%, to 767 kilograms (1,690 pounds), the agency added.
The increases reflect an effort by Mexican drug cartels to expand their supply chains for fentanyl and meth — manufactured in so-called “super labs” south of the border — into the U.S. Northeast despite the coronavirus health crisis, said Ray Donovan, head of the DEA’s New York office.
DEA agents have seen fentanyl mixed with heroin, cocaine, meth and even marijuana, Donovan said. It’s estimated that more than 60% of all drug overdose deaths in New York City involve fentanyl, he added.
“When drug traffickers introduced fentanyl to the illicit drug market, they created a monster,” Donovan said.
In raids in New York City in May, agents recovered 120,000 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin mixed with fentanyl that was worth over $1 million. The DEA said dealers stamped some of the envelopes with a twisted brand: “Coronavirus."