|Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, manufactured from chemicals, unlike heroin, which is produced from the poppy plant. DEA agents say clandestine labs across China are the main source of the drug. It’s often shipped to Mexico where drug cartels mix it into heroin or press it into tablets. The powder or pills are delivered to dealers or directly to users like pizza via the internet or darknet, an area used for illegal purchases.|
|Synthetic drugs are easy to make and they’re cheap to produce. The profit margin is massive, as much as 50,000 percent. The DEA says it costs $3,000-$4,000 to produce a kilo of fentanyl. The fentanyl is then cut with cheap fillers to make pills or sold as heroin. Drug traffickers can yield close to $1.5 million off that one kilogram. The U.S. has asked the United Nations to help curb the trade of NPP and ANPP, chemicals used to make fentanyl. There will be no progress until next year.|
Once synthetic drugs are controlled, drug manufacturers simply change a molecule to circumvent the law. New synthetic substances appear frequently. These are called analogues. If a drug compound is similar to fentanyl, or if it produces the same effect, it is quickly added to the drug supply. These new drugs are not illegal in many countries.
The Center for Disease Control offers a sobering perspective. While about 78 Americans will die every day of an overdose, another 580 will try heroin, or what they think is heroin, for the first time. The reality is fentanyl is now being cut into virtually all street drugs.