Alarm bells should be going off in everybody’s heads because fentanyl could someday become a weapon against America. In a way, it already is.
The scourge of death by fentanyl overdoses continues, including right here in central Minnesota. It’s a truly alarming epidemic, as bad or worse than overdose deaths caused by other street drugs.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller. Legal fentanyl can be effective for severe pain but only under strict medical supervision. Its most-lethal type is sold in the form of pills that are made in illicit “laboratories” operated by Mexican cartel “drug lords.” The ingredients to make the pills come mostly from China and India. The pills are then smuggled into the United States, most often hidden in vehicles at legal border crossings.
Recently, the St. Cloud Police Department issued an urgent warning for all area residents to become aware of fentanyl and what its pills (usually light blue) and/or powder look like. Last year, there were 16 fentanyl-caused deaths in the St. Cloud area.
One of those deaths was that of a 2-year-old child who, as far as we know at this point, ingested the fentanyl via pills or powder at the child’s mother’s apartment. The tragedy happened in April 2022. The little victim suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage.
In the apartment, police found pills with an “M” mark on one side and a “30” mark on the other side (typical markings on homemade fentanyl pills). They also found crushed-up pills (for “smoking”) on a desk in the apartment.
The mother, 24, was charged with manslaughter. After failing to show up for a court hearing in October, a warrant was issued, and she was arrested two weeks ago.
Last year, at least 75,000 Americans died from overdoses of synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl. It takes only a tiny amount, 2 milligrams of fentanyl, to kill a person.
Imagine irresponsible adults leaving stashes of fentanyl pills around the house that children will find. And then imagine the unthinkable – the catastrophic horror of fentanyl being used to cause a mass-casualty event, such as toxic contaminations of water or food supplies. Yes, the unthinkable can happen. Remember 9-11?
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration called fentanyl “the deadliest threat the DEA has ever seen.” There are growing demands to designate fentanyl as a potential weapon of mass destruction and to devise beefed-up strategies, in cooperation with Mexico and other nations, to deal with drug cartels and those who make, smuggle and sell that deadly drug.
Those steps should be among the highest priorities of this new U.S. Congress and international summit meetings.
In the meantime, if anyone finds suspicious, homemade-looking pills or powders in homes, schools or anywhere else, they should immediately call 911 or the St. Cloud Police Department at 320-251-1200.