Drugs in the mail: Dangerous synthetic opioids ‘raised the stakes’

Fentanyl is mailed to Dayton. Meth is shipped to Trotwood. Cash is sent from Dayton to California.

Recent federal court search warrant affidavits filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court detail the continual efforts to move drugs and money through the U.S. Postal Service.

But the rise in dangerous synthetic drugs has “raised the stakes” for law enforcement trying to detect them and stop their importation, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

WHIO REPORT: Fenanyl delivered through the mail

“The emergence of synthetic opioids … has raised the stakes considerably, in at least two ways,” according to U.S. attorney Benjamin Glassman. “First, substances like carfentanil are extraordinarily dangerous to handle — and that’s as true for law enforcement as for anyone else.

“Second, we’ve seen that the chemical components for fentanyl and its analogs are more readily available for purchase and shipping via the dark web, making efforts to interdict the supply more challenging and more important.”

Drug overdose deaths in Montgomery County in 2017 are on pace for 800, more than double the 2016 total, which was a record high. Most include fentanyl, which has outpaced heroin as the key component in overdoses.

RELATED: How Mexican drug cartels move heroin to Miami Valley street corners

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Brem said earlier this year that much of the fentanyl is delivered to mailboxes.

“If you shut down all the mail service in America for a day,” Brem said., “you’d shut down more than half of the drug trafficking in America.”

Glassman said federal agencies always have checked packages for contraband and drug proceeds.

A senior Trump administration official — speaking on a background call this week — told this news organization that synthetic drugs are harder for K-9s to detect.

RELATED: Local drug trade ‘bigger problem than we thought’

The official said at the international shipping center at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York where mail from Asia arrives, there are 100,000 packages per day.

The senior administration official said since October 2015, China has classified as illegal more than 140 substances, including carfentanil and several fentanyl analogs.

The official also said the Mexican government is helping to curb cultivation of record-high production of poppy used to make heroin.

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“Our bilateral relationships with Mexico and China have been instrumental in us making some ground on this,” the official said. “They are doing what they can.”

The senior administration official also said that collecting accurate statistics about what analogs are being found in what parts of the country is difficult because there are no national standards for toxicology screening, testing, cataloging and reporting data.


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