In a recently released statement, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has stated that there has been a massive surge in the smuggling of fentanyl creeping across the United States border. The agency has, so far, seized more of the dangerously potent narcotic already in the first few months of this year than it did in the entirety of 2020 as a whole.
“Customs and Border Protection seized more fentanyl so far in 2021 than all of 2020,” ABC News stated this past Tuesday. “As of April, 6,494 pounds of fentanyl were seized by authorities at the border, compared to 4,776 pounds in all of 2020. In fact, fentanyl seizures have been increasing since 2018.”
“Fentanyl is an incredibly potent opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine,” stated an expert in an interview with ABC News. During the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use and abuse of Fentanyl have spiked, and overdoses have continued to tear apart the United Stated even as lockdown protocols start to ease.
Along with an increase in fentanyl, CBP has also made note that there has also been an increase in the amount of methamphetamine taken at the souther border, and overall an increase in the amount of narcotics of all kinds, particularly along the United States-Mexico border which, as we know, is still embroiled in an illegal immigration crisis.
“CBP’s Office of Field Operations has seen a slight increase in narcotic seizures at its southern border ports of entry in fiscal year 2021,” The CBP released in a statement. “As cross-border travel shifted to essential-travel only, criminal organizations shifted their operations as well. CBP has seen an increase in seizures amongst U.S. citizens and in the commercial environment as both demographics are exempt from the travel restrictions.”
NPR has stated that overdose deaths have surged throughout the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in areas under heavier pandemic-related lockdowns, where most Americans have been forbidden to leave their homes for anything other than essential travel. Over the previous years, about 70,000 Americans died at the hands of drug overdoses, however, that number jumped up to 90,000 over the course of 2020, and many of those deaths happened because of fentanyl.
“According to preliminary figures released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioid fatalities rose by an unprecedented 55% during the twelve months ending in September 2020,” reported NPR.
“Deaths from methamphetamines and other stimulants also surged by roughly 46%,” the radio outlet stated, going on to add that many of those deaths are in fact “linked to fentanyl contamination” where users did not know that the drugs they were consuming were laced with the extremely powerful narcotic.
A precise number for the pandemic-era overdose deaths may not be available for quite a while. CDC data on such subjects tend to lag about six months, and all preliminary data on deaths from September to December of 2020 will not be available for the public until mid-summer.
The reason for this spike in drug use during the pandemic is unknown, but some experts seem to believe that it is due to the rise in pressures of the pandemic itself. “One team of CDC researchers found roughly 13% of people surveyed either began using drugs during the pandemic or increased their use of illicit substances,” stated NPR.