DEA says agency seized enough fentanyl to kill every American in 2022

It's sheer lethality has prompted a growing movement to designate fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.

Published: December 20, 2022 3:31pm

Updated: December 20, 2022 3:58pm

The Drug Enforcement Agency on Tuesday announced that in 2022, it had seized quantities of the highly lethal narcotic fentanyl sufficient to kill more than the entire American population.

The agency seized more than 379 million doses of the drug this year, up 94% from 2019, indicating the trafficking of the relatively new narcotic is on the rise, according to the Washington Post.

Included in that figure are more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder and more than 50 million illegal fentanyl pills. Fentanyl, the outlet asserts, has become the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-49. The drug is 50 times more potent than heroin. Federal authorities believe they have only seized between 5 and 10 percent of the shipments entering the country.

The U.S. is home to roughly 330 million people, meaning that the 2022 seizures could feasibly annihilate the entire population, with plenty of the drug left over.

Fentanyl's potency came into full public view in recent days after video footage emerged of a police officer, who barely unrolled a dollar bill believed to contain the drug, struggling to maintain consciousness shortly after, prompting her fellow officers to administer Narcan.

Isolated seizures of the drug have turned up extremely lethal quantities, most notably a July seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that saw the agency recover more than 2,000 pounds of it.

Its sheer lethality has prompted a growing movement to designate fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.

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