American News Sep 29, 2021 11:29 PM EST

Arizona County faces surge in fentanyl overdoses, seizures of illegal pills coming across border

The number of overdoses in Pinal County, Arizona, have overtaken COVID-19 deaths in the last year, with deputies responding to a fentanyl related call every 40 hours.

Arizona County faces surge in fentanyl overdoses, seizures of illegal pills coming across border
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

One Arizona community is facing a dramatic increase of fentanyl overdoses as local officials struggle to keep up with the stream of illegal pills flooding into the state.

In Pinal County, Arizona, Sheriff Mark Lamb told Fox News that the number of overdoses have overtaken COVID-19 deaths in the last year, with deputies responding to a fentanyl related call every 40 hours.

"Honestly, we're seeing a disaster," said Lamb. "Eighty-five percent of the people that are in my jail right now are there because of alcohol or drugs. So yeah, it's a big impact in our communities."

Lamb said that his team is struggling to keep up with the flood of illegal M-30 fentanyl pills coming across the border into the Untied States.

"As long as we don't secure our border what we continue to see is human trafficking and drug trafficking in this country, I always tell people this isn't a political issue, this is an issue that is about protecting America and American communities," said Lamb. "What we're seeing is an exorbitant amount of humans being trafficked into this country and drugs".

According to Fox News, Arizona has seized around 6 million of these pills. In Pinal County alone, authorities have seized 1.1 million of these M-30 pills.

This is a drastic increase from the year prior, in which 200,000 of these pills were seized by authorities. The year before, it was only 700. In 2018, none of these pills were seized by authorities.

"We expect those numbers to go even higher before the end of the year. That is staggering and should be alarming to the American people, because we are likely not catching even 10% of what is coming in this country," said  Lamb.

With the increase of pills coming across the border, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a public safety alert on Monday warning the public about counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

"Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a Public Safety Alert warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine," the DEA statement read.

"DEA's Public Safety Alert, the first in six years, seeks to raise public awareness of a significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs, deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate," the statement continued.

According to US Customs and Border Protection, 2,804 pounds of fentanyl were seized in fiscal year 2019, 4,791 in 2020, and since October, when the fiscal year started, CBP has seized 10,469 pounds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that nearly 93,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in 2019, with fentanyl being a main driver of deaths.

"We're doing the best we can, we work with Border Patrol, we use our aviation in conjunction with Border Patrol, we have an anti-smuggling unit that's actively out looking in the desert, we have drug units that go out and go out to the drug dealers and the people that are pushing the fentanyl pills and the methamphetamines and the marijuana," said Lamb.

He continued, "We are consistently working every day. We have our canines who do interdiction on the highways because our county has the I-8 and the I-10 corridors here, two main arteries for the cartel bringing drugs into this country and humans."

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