In a joint statement, Colorado field offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), together with state law enforcement, this week warned people to use only prescription medications as the fentanyl poisonings surge.
According to the DEA, fentanyl remains the leading cause of drug-related deaths in the state, after having increased by more than 70 percent in 2021. The highly addictive synthetic opioid is more potent than heroin and morphine alike, able to kill with as little as two milligrams. Its numbers in the community have continued to surge as well, particularly adulterated with Xylazine, and the agencies noted that it is coming in all shapes and sizes, liquid and powder form alike at this point.
The Xylazine mix is of particular concern, since by mixing in that non-opiate veterinary sedative, analgesic and muscle relaxant, overdose reversal agents such as Naloxone might be rendered ineffective.
“Fentanyl is the most urgent drug threat facing our communities and the cartels are one of our greatest security threats,” David Olesky, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge, said. “The relationship between the cartels and the local street gangs and criminal groups drives the drug trade and the violence associated with it. The DEA Rocky Mountain Division has already removed nearly one million deadly doses of fentanyl pills from our communities this year and we show no signs of slowing down.”
As a result, the agency, together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Colorado, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado State Patrol and the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, urged people to use only medications prescribed by a doctor and filled at legitimate pharmacies – and, in particular, to avoid purchasing medications on social media. So far, they noted, fentanyl has been seen disguised to look like Oxycodone and other legitimate medications, in powder form like cocaine and even in a nasal spray.
According to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, seizure amounts this year are quickly approaching last year’s figures, and fentanyl supplies remain at historically low prices, likely fueling the drug trade.
“Colorado State Troopers have seen a resurgence of fentanyl and other illicit narcotics on our roadways over the last few weeks, and these loads are destined for our communities in Colorado,” Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said. “The cartels and drug traffickers haven’t lessened their grip on those addicted or experimenting with narcotics. And, we haven’t lessened our commitment to removing every trafficker and every load from reaching its destination.”