Fentanyl is an opioid that experts say is 50 times stronger than heroin. Considering how powerful it is, it's usually only prescribed for extremely serious conditions. But that doesn't stop people from importing the drug illegally and selling it on the black market, as New York City cops are now well aware.
The New York City police department seized 195 pounds of fentanyl in a recent drug bust, they announced. Prosecutors on the case said that's enough of the opioid to deliver 32 million lethal doses.
"The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking," said an NYPD spokeswoman. "It's not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast."
Each year, there are about 64,000 overdose deaths in the United States. More than 20,000 of those deaths are caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In 2016, overdose deaths reached all time highs in five New York City boroughs.
Many people are forced to purchase drugs like fentanyl on the black market after getting addicted to prescription opioids. Of course, if medical marijuana was more permissive in these states, these people may never have gotten hooked on opioids in the first place. New York state, for instance, has some of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the country and only allow patients to use cannabis for very serious conditions. Meanwhile people with chronic pain and other illnesses not covered by the NY law are forced to use far more dangerous opioids.
So it shouldn't be too surprising when you find this much fentanyl in New York City.