Most of the fentanyl coming into the U.S. is no longer being sent through the mail from China. Instead, China is shipping it to Mexico, where it's manufactured in labs and smuggled over the border, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Law enforcement officers point to the amount of it funneling across the border as the nation's single deadliest drug threat.
"Chinese criminals are exporting these chemicals into Mexico so Mexican cartels can distribute this poison as counterfeit pills. The whole point is to drive addiction and make a profit," said Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Safety.
Sold as powder or pill, fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, 50 times more potent than heroin, and cheaper to mass produce. Even a tiny amount of it can be lethal.
An estimated 100,000-plus Americans died because of fentanyl during the pandemic alone. Numbers continue to soar.
"It's been found in the black market Adderall, ecstasy pills. It's been found in cocaine. People think they are ingesting another drug and it is actually fentanyl," said Ron Vitiello, former Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
DEA lab tests show that 60 percent of fentanyl-laced fake pills analyzed in 2022 contained a potentially fatal dose of the opioid. Colorful pills, agents say are being used to target children, are also popping up in one community after another.
Since August, officers have seized the deadly drug across more than two dozen states and counting. Critics of the Biden administration, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, call the crisis a result of the president's refusal to secure the border.
"I sent this letter to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris demanding they classify drug cartels operating in Texas as terrorist organizations," said Abbott.
"The federal government needs to enact policies. They need to put pressure on Mexico to identify these criminal organizations and identify chemical weapons labs that are distributing these drugs in mass quantities," said Olivarez.
Texas alone has seen more than 400 million doses of fentanyl seized since March of last year.
"It's no coincidence we have a border that's out of control, uncontrolled immigration, thousands and thousands of people coming over every single day. The same people who are trafficking persons are the same people responsible for sending it into the U.S.," said Vitiello.
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