Federal agents have busted a Florida man who they say was part of an international ring that used the Internet and U.S. mail to import a so-called synthetic heroin called fentanyl that is sweeping Florida and killing hundreds of users, the Miami Herald reports. The arrest of Aldolphe Joseph, 34, comes as law-enforcement agencies are working to stem the pipeline of synthetic drugs from China, which has helped fuel a spike in fentanyl-related deaths. New data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that deaths caused by fentanyl overdoses statewide last year jumped a staggering 114 percent.
From Molly to flakka to fentanyl, the wave of synthetic drugs from overseas has become a top priority for South Florida law enforcement and public health officials. The ease of ordering drugs from Chinese websites has created a new breed of drug dealers, who use U.S. mail services to deliver the cheaply made chemicals. With users going on violent rampages in public, flakka has had the most national media attention, with the drug showing up in the blood of over 50 dead people in Broward Count, Fl., over the past year. The chemical alone caused only one overdose death in Broward. Other users died from taking a lethal mixture of flakka and assorted other drugs. Fentanyl and its chemical variants, which are often laced into heroin, have been much more lethal.