Long Island’s Fentanyl Addiction Problem
Last month two dozen Long Island residents were arrested on various charges related to powerful opioid known as fentanyl. The arrests were a culmination of a 10-day-long drug sting in Suffolk County. Nearly four kilograms, an assault rifle, armor, scales and nearly $20,000 cash were seized during the notable bust that has put residents on notice regarding the newest addiction threat facing their community. Investigators believe the dealers delivered more than 3,000 bags of heroin and fentanyl per week from New York City to Long Island. Fentanyl was the drug named in Prince’s overdose back in April, and has claimed countless other lives throughout the country.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is an easily produced opioid, the potency of which exceeds that of heroin by an average of 30 to 50 percent. Like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other prescription opioids, it is an incredibly effective resource in the treatment of severe chronic and cancer-related pain. However, it is also commonly produced by street dealers for illegal distribution. Fentanyl is extremely deadly. In 2015, the drug claimed 54 Suffolk County residents, accounting for nearly half of the all the region’s opioid overdoses. It represents the latest chapter in an ongoing battle of a region that is already plagued by heroin and alcohol addiction.
What Can Be Done?
Investigators in the recent bust are still unsure as to whether or not they can, or will, levy homicide charges against some of those apprehended for their apparent involvement in 10 recent fentanyl-related overdoses in the area. It is clear, however, that a more sophisticated and streamlined combination of treatment enforcement is needed. There is more and more of an effort to tie dealers directly to overdose deaths in an effort to hold them legally accountable on more serious charges than possession or distribution. This strategy continues to be implemented on a case-by-case basis.
Fentanyl is so dangerous and addictive, that DEA agents have been instructed not to perform identification tests in the field. Even sniffing it can have serious long-term consequences.