By Cameron Arcand
Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell warns about the importance of drug-related education of youth in her National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day statement Monday.
Mitchell cited the 2022 Arizona Youth Survey, in which 47% of eighth graders said they do not know of the deadly drug, according to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.
“This is something that we can’t afford to have them not know about because what we’re finding is that fentanyl is laced in all different sorts of street drugs,” she said. “We have seen overdoses in young people double since 2019.”
According to county data from 2020 and 2021, synthetic opioids were related to 91% of overdose deaths of people between 15-24 years old. In addition, the county states that the synthetic opioid death rate has skyrocketed by 6,000% between 2012 and 2021.
She encouraged parents to talk with their children about the substance and said that “It’s not a drug. It’s a poison.”
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 150 people die each day in the United States due to synthetic opioid overdoses, which include fentanyl. The agency says that it is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Its legal usage is typically for prescribed pain relief medication. In Arizona, that estimate is over five people daily, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
As Arizona is a border state, it’s become a hub for fentanyl trafficking, as the substance is regularly seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in large quantities. The Drug Enforcement Administration said that over half of fentanyl is stemming from the Arizona-Mexico border, NewsNation reported earlier in August. Some of those seizures are larger than others, as The Center Square reported that nearly a ton of fentanyl was seized by authorities at the Arizona border between March and May through “Operation Blue Lotus” and “Operation Four Horseman.”
Of all of the fentanyl seized across the nation, half of it is seized in Arizona because we are a border state,” Mitchell said.
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