DEA: Drug Cartels Producing Fentanyl Greatest Drug Threat Ever To US, CNN Visits Secret DEA Testing Lab

DEA special agent Jon DeLena recently told Congress that the drug crisis underway today is unlike anything he’s ever seen in his 27 years with the agency. He called two Mexican cartels the greatest drug threat the U.S. has ever faced.

“The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels pose the greatest criminal drug threat the United States has ever faced,” DeLena said in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. “These ruthless, violent and criminal organizations have associates, facilitators and brokers in all 50 states as well as in more than 40 countries around the world.”

Nationwide, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 107,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2021 mainly due to fentanyl, which is being produced and smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico primarily by the Sinaloa Cartel

The DEA reportedly seized over 50 million fake pills and 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2022. 

CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was granted access to the DEA's secret lab where the agency tests seized illicit drugs to better understand and foresee what’s coming next.

“The market is constantly changing, so we are trying to do everything we can from a science base to keep up with that,” Scott Oulton, deputy assistant administrator of the DEA’s Office of Forensic Sciences told Gupta and showed him a bag of fentanyl precursor powder – one of the chemicals used to make the deadly opioid. 

“This kilogram can be converted into fentanyl to make approximately 800 grams,” Oulton said. “So it doesn’t take that much material, it’s fairly cheap, it’s inexpensive to obtain.” 

Targeting Teens

In 2021, US drug overdose deaths hit the highest level on record, according to CDC data. The number of pills the DEA seized skyrocketed in just three years, from 2.2 million in 2019 to 50.6 million in 2022. 

According to another CDC report, the number of monthly overdose deaths among people between 10 to 19 increased 109% from 2019 to 2021. Deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl surged 182% and counterfeit pills were present in nearly 1 in 4 of those deaths.

Oultan pointed out at these pills end up on the street looking like prescription meds taken by people who have no idea that they’re consuming deadly amounts of fentanyl. 

“Over 99% of what we see are fake. They contain fentanyl,” Oulton said. 

And it doesn’t take much to produce them.

The 800 grams of fentanyl that Oulton showed CNN could be turned into 400,000 to 500,000 potentially lethal pills.

It also doesn’t take much to kill someone.

“One pill can kill” Oultan warned. 

“The message I would like to send out is, don’t take it,” he said. “Don’t take the chance. It’s not worth your life.”

More on CNN's visit to DEA's drug-testing lab:


Photo: DEA website

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: CannabisNewsMarketscnnDEADr. Sanjay Guptadrug cartelsFentanyl
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!

The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Florida

The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is returning to Florida, in a new venue in Hollywood, on April 16 and 17, 2024. The two-day event at The Diplomat Beach Resort will be a chance for entrepreneurs, both large and small, to network, learn and grow. Renowned for its trendsetting abilities and influence on the future of cannabis, mark your calendars – this conference is the go-to event of the year for the cannabis world.

Get your tickets now on – Prices will increase very soon!