Maricopa County Attorney emphasizes that the fentanyl crisis in Arizona remains prevalent

May 7, 2024, 2:00 PM

PHOENIX — Despite advancements in fentanyl education, Arizona still grapples with a significant issue, as noted by Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell on Fentanyl Awareness Day.

“I know that we’re getting the word out, you know, we’re seeing the needle move in terms of education, we’re keeping that up,” Mitchell told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News show on Tuesday. “But as far as the amount of fentanyl just pouring over the border, it’s just incredible how much is coming over.”

In addition to a surge in the influx of fentanyl entering the state, 2023 saw a record number of prosecutions related to the synthetic opioid with over 7,800 submittals, a nearly 20% increase from the year prior.

As of April, over 2,200 fentanyl cases have been filed, prompting the county attorney’s office to anticipate surpassing last year’s figures.

“Fentanyl is very cheap, extremely addictive and it’s tearing families and communities apart,” Mitchell said in a press release. “Teens today are buying pills they don’t know are fake and that contain lethal doses of this poison. If one conversation can save a life, it’s all worth doing.”

Here’s why the issue is still so prevalent

A problem persists, with over half of the total fentanyl pills entering the country in the past few years originating from the Arizona border.

The synthetic drug is causing at least three deaths daily in Maricopa County and five statewide, according to Mitchell and Attorney General Kris Mayes.

Mitchell also emphasized that fentanyl, as numbers continue to rise, is the primary drug concern the county is facing.

“Just a few years ago, if you had a dealer that had a few hundred pills that was a mid-level dealer. Now that’s nothing. We’re seeing people come over the border with 1 million pills, 800,000 pills,” Mitchell said.

“The amounts are just through the roof, and … fentanyl drives other criminal behavior — either violence or property crimes to support the habit — and it’s so easy to get.”

Last year, over 40 million fentanyl pills and over 380 pounds of fentanyl powder were confiscated in Arizona by the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal, state and local partners, potentially saving over 30 million lives.

During that same time frame across the country, the DEA reported confiscating over 77 million fentanyl pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder, totaling 386 million deadly doses. The quantity was enough to potentially kill every American.

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Maricopa County Attorney emphasizes that the fentanyl crisis in Arizona remains prevalent