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Monday, November 29th, 2021

DEA warns of post-COVID meth, fentanyl market in New York

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Officials with the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said the amount of methamphetamine and fentanyl seized during 2020 indicates an alarming trend in street drugs and overdose deaths.

According to the DEA, agents seized 214 percent more methamphetamine and 59 percent more fentanyl in New York alone. Methamphetamine and fentanyl were two of the top contributors to overdose deaths in the United States between May 2019 and May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Alert Network.

“Last month, the CDC Health Alert Network issued an advisory warning that drug overdose deaths significantly increased across the United States, especially deaths involving psychostimulants (methamphetamine) and synthetic opioids (fentanyl),” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “There were an estimated 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States from May 2019 to May 2020, justifying a need to alert New Yorkers that drug overdose deaths lurk behind the public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”

DEA New York officials said COVID-19 has affected drug trafficking organizations’ production, packaging, transportation, distribution, and money laundering tactics. The New York Division said it had seized nearly $170 million of drug proceeds and assets and over $603 million worth of illicit drugs.

Officials said the uptick in seizures in that state parallels the CDC’s overdose death data.

“When drug traffickers introduced fentanyl to the illicit drug market, they created a monster,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “Fentanyl has been a public health nuisance for several years and has taken too many lives too often. We have seen fentanyl mixed with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and even marijuana; and it is estimated that 60%+ of all drug overdose deaths in New York City involve fentanyl. Like methamphetamine, fentanyl is produced in ‘Super Labs’ by Mexican trafficking organizations, packaged, and pushed through the border for distribution across the nation.”