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The rise of fentanyl, a killer

Jeaneth Amores

All it takes is 2 milligrams of fentanyl to kill an average person. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration compares that dosage enough to be able to fit on top of a tip of a pencil.

On Feb. 20, Leigha Simonton, Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney, visited Dallas College El Centro Campus to speak at the Fentanyl: One Pill Can Kill.

Fentanyl has become a drug affecting North Texas communities. It is often disguised to look like a medical prescription drug such as adderall, xanax and oxycodone.

As the main prosecutor of this matter in the district, Simonton brought awareness to the deadly consequences of fentanyl. She said the drug has ravaged communities in Dallas County.

 “Everywhere I go, I make sure to speak about the fentanyl crisis that is going on,” Simonton said. “I speak to my children, their friends or neighbors,” At the local level, besides using the newspapers and broadcasting stations to highlight the issue.

On the DEA’s fentanyl awareness page, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said fentanyl is the deadliest drug crisis our country has ever faced. “Over 110,000 Americans lost their lives to drug poisining last year, 70% of those deaths are due to fentanyl,” Milgram said in 2023.

Simonton said a program called Protect Our Children Program covers many areas relative to education. Its main highlight is to educate schools’ staff while targeting the general public about fentanyl awareness.

In hospitals, fentanyl is prescribed at very low doses to patients with severe pain.

However, according to Simonton, the crisis began when the drug was acquired by young people illegally.

Fentanyl is a chemically engineered drug whose components come from China and are shipped to cartels in Mexico, who in turn take it across the border to sell them on the streets.

Young people are often deceived when buying drugs, thinking they’re getting something mild like oxycodone to make them “woke,” not realizing they may be putting themselves at risk of a fatal overdose.

According to the DEA’s website, over 90 million deadly doses of fentanyl have been seized in 2024 so far. Seven out of every 10 pills seized by the DEA contained a lethal dose.

In terms of demographics, everyone is affected.“In the Carrollton-Farmers Branch area, most of the kids affected were of Hispanic origins,” Simonton said.

Cartels target the younger generation, whose depression was caused by the pandemic. They offer them pills that appear legitimate to treat mental health issues but can be dangerous, leading to addiction or even death from just one dose.

“Federal prosecutions of fentanyl make up a small percentage of crime prosecutions … the reason why we focus on it so much is because of how deadly the pill is,” Simmonton said.

To prevent the widespread of the crisis, several measures have been put in place by Simonton’s office. These include making sure that every American is informed and educated on the matter.

Simonton said several press conferences have been hosted, as well as social media awareness, given that it is the main means of acquisition of the drug. Legal measures are also taken against those connected to fentanyl cases that resulted in the death of the consumer.

The best way to efficiently deal with the crisis is to have parents educate their children not to open any drugs that are not offered over the counter.

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