DEA: Fentanyl seizures double this year, and half of the total comes from Arizona

A record number of fentanyl was seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2022, and about half of the nation's total comes from Arizona.

The DEA reiterates that fentanyl is the deadliest drug facing this country as it’s 50 times more potent than heroin and just two milligrams, or about the amount that can fit on the tip of a pen, is considered a lethal dose.

"It is devastating, destructive, and poisonous and deadly," says Cheri Oz, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Phoenix Field Division.

DEA agents have been working non-stop to combat deadly fentanyl pills from spreading across the country, and on Dec. 27, it released its year end totals.

"We seized over 22 million pills fentanyl pills so far this year just in Arizona alone. We are projected to seize in excess of 25 million pills, which is an outstanding number, more than twice what we did last year. Last year we had 12 million pills for the same time period, and we thought at that time that that was the most we would ever see. This year, sadly, we have more than doubled that number," Oz remarked.

MORE: Fentanyl seizures at the border continue to spike and shatter records in 2022

The state's total makes around half the national total for the year as agents seized more than 50.6 million pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2022. 

The DEA says its laboratories estimate that’s more than 379 million potentially lethal doses, which is enough to kill every single American.

"This is the heart of the problem – right here in Arizona – we are the first line of defense and the cases we have in Arizona here touch every single state in the United States," Oz said.

Most of the pills are being produced by only two cartels. One of which is the Sinaloa Cartel, which uses Arizona as its main gateway into the country.

Oz says the pills are cheap to make and the demand for them is higher than ever because of their addictive nature.

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Over the last year, the DEA says pills are coming in higher volumes and have become more deadly. Around 6 out of 10 pills contain a lethal dose.

For now, the agency is constantly adding more agents and staff members to fight this epidemic.

"So we have doubled down on our efforts, and we are coming, and the cartels should be shaking in their boots. I hope they didn’t have a good Christmas. They need to start looking over their shoulder because we are on our way. We are coming," Oz cautioned.

Last year, more than 107,000 Americans died from an overdose or drug poisoning – 70% of those deaths are from opioids like fentanyl.