The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on Tuesday that it has seized more than 36 million lethal doses of fentanyl during an enforcement surge across the U.S.
In a news release, the agency said it, along with law enforcement partners across the country, seized more than 10.2 million fentanyl pills and approximately 980 pounds of fentanyl powder from May to September through its One Pill Can Kill initiative.
The amount of drugs confiscated by authorities during the five-month period is the equivalent of more than 36 million lethal doses removed from the illegal drug supply, the agency said.
The DEA also said that 51 cases out of the 390 it has investigated through the initiative are linked to overdose poisonings and 35 are directly linked to one or both of two Mexican cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), that are responsible for the majority of the influx of fentanyl in the country.
Additionally, 129 investigations conducted in the initiative are linked to social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and TikTok, the agency said.
“For the past year, confronting the fentanyl crisis has been the top priority for DEA. The most urgent threat to our communities, our kids, and our families are the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG who are mass producing and supplying the fentanyl that is poisoning and killing Americans,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement, adding that the agency will focus hard on ending both Mexican cartels’ drug businesses in the U.S.
“The Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG are ruthless, criminal organizations that use deception and treachery to drive addiction with complete disregard for human life. To save American lives, the DEA is relentlessly focused on defeating the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG by degrading their operations to make it impossible for them to do business.”
The DEA launched its One Pill Can Kill initiative last year as fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, has become the deadliest drug threat in the country.
Sixty-six percent of the record-high 107,622 U.S. deaths from drug poisoning or overdose last year can be attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, the news release said.
“Across the country, fentanyl is devastating families and communities, and we know that violent, criminal drug cartels bear responsibility for this crisis,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department, including the extraordinary professionals of the DEA, is working to disrupt and dismantle the operations of these cartels, remove deadly fentanyl from our communities, and save Americans’ lives.”