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66 Dep't of Just. J. Fed. L. & Prac. 55 (2018)
Fentanyl Trafficking Trends in the United States

handle is hein.journals/usab66 and id is 582 raw text is: 

Fentanyl Trafficking Trends in the

United States

Kirsten  Walters
Supervisory   Intelligence Research   Specialist
Drug  Enforcement Administration, Intelligence Division

        Fentanyl is a Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule II synthetic opioid. It is used as an
anesthetic, and is also prescribed as a pain reliever to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Its
strong opioid properties have made it an attractive drug of abuse for opioid users.
        Pharmaceutical fentanyl, available in tablets, liquids, patches, and lozenges is diverted from
healthcare facilities, although usually on a small scale. This diversion is typically carried out by
individuals with access to the drug who steal it to satisfy a personal addiction or for street level sales.
Users can extract the fentanyl gel solution in transdermal patches to smoke or ingest the fentanyl, and
intravenous fentanyl solution can be injected directly into the bloodstream.
        Fentanyl is also illicitly manufactured in clandestine laboratories in China and, likely, Mexico
before being smuggled into the United States and distributed in opioid markets. Illicitly produced fentanyl
is typically distributed in a white powder form to be mixed into heroin or other illicit drugs, or pressed
into counterfeit opioid prescription pills. Illicitly produced fentanyl is the most common type of fentanyl
abused in the United States and is primarily responsible for the current fentanyl crisis.
        The threat posed by illicitly produced fentanyl is multifaceted. It originally entered illicit drug
markets through heroin; fentanyl in powder form is used as an adulterant and mixed into heroin,
oftentimes without heroin users knowing it. It is increasingly more common for fentanyl to be mixed with
adulterants and diluents and sold as heroin, with no heroin present in the product. Fentanyl in this form
looks just like heroin, is packaged in the same manner as heroin-in baggies or wax envelopes-and
displays similar stamps or brands as heroin. Many heroin users have no desire to use fentanyl, although
some heroin users will seek it out because of its potency.
        Fentanyl was introduced into the prescription pill abuser market when traffickers began taking
white powder fentanyl and common  diluents and using pill press machines to press it into counterfeit
prescription pills that are commonly abused. Often, these pills closely resemble the authentic product they
are being sold as, and the users have no idea they are laced with fentanyl.

July 2018                        United States Attorneys' Bulletin                             55

Figure 1. Counterfeit Oxycodone Tablets Containing Fentanyl

July 2018

United States Attorneys' Bulletin


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