The fuel to the burning fire of America’s opioid epidemic continues to be fentanyl. It’s tied to nearly 130 deaths in America each day. Last year, Sara A. Carter produced a documentary titled “Not in Vein” to showcase exactly how the highly potent synthetic opioid is making its way across the U.S. Mexico border and into American communities. It’s the reason Carter testified before the Ohio state legislature to urge local lawmakers to push the federal government to designate the Mexican drug cartels Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
Boston, MA is one city that is ground zero for the epidemic. The local NPR affiliate WBUR reported Thursday morning that public health officials are testing a new system of to help detect the presence of fentanyl in drug mixtures found on the streets. The technology, MX908 was originally designed to detect agents of chemical warfare. It was marketed “to the military and hazmat crews fighting bioterrorism or explosions.” Now, it is being tested to aid public health and law enforcement officials in identifying the presence of fentanyl in local communities.
Former Director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Special Operation’s Division Derek Maltz told this reporter that the move is a step in the right direction, however he warned that “the vast majority of users will not utilize this device since all they care about is feeding their addiction.” Maltz was also featured in “Not in Vein” and testified before the Ohio legislature to push state officials to implement the FTO designation.
“Since we are experiencing chemical warfare in America as these poisonous chemicals are all over the country, I’m glad to see technology companies are trying to develop solutions to save lives.” said Maltz, “They should work closely with the law enforcement experts who deal with these issues on the street daily and try to build cost effective capabilities that will actually work.”
Although the Massachusetts Health Department is reporting a decline in the number of opioid related deaths, they say “fentanyl is still trending upward.” In 2018, the Health Department recorded an estimated 2,032 opioid overdose deaths statewide. Moreover, the report identified the fentanyl abuse as coming mostly from illegal drug trafficking and less from pharmaceutical abuse.