While fentanyl offenders remain a small proportion of the overall federal drug trafficking caseload (6 percent), the number has “sharply increased over the last several years,” according to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC).
Calling it a “relatively new and emerging problem,” the USSC reported the number of fentanyl offenders more than doubled each fiscal year since 2015.
The number of offenders rose to 886 in 2019, the last year for which data was available, representing a 3,592 percent increase, the commission said in a report released Monday.
In 2019, fentanyl or fentanyl analogue offenders accounted for almost three-quarters (75 percent) of all drug trafficking offenders sentenced where the offence of conviction established that death or serious bodily injury resulted from the substance’s use.
Nearly all fentanyl and fentanyl analogues trafficked in 2019 were illicitly manufactured.
These drugs showed distinct trafficking patterns. Fentanyl was more likely to enter the United States through the U.S./Mexico border, while fentanyl analogues were more likely to be purchased directly over the Internet or dark web, frequently from China, and shipped by international mail or express package services.
Over half of fentanyl analogue offenders (58 percent) also trafficked at least one other drug. The most common other drugs were heroin (52 percent), fentanyl (40 percent), and powder cocaine (24 percent).
See also: “Lawmakers Use War on Drugs ‘Playbook’ for Fentanyl,” The Crime Report, Jan. 24, 2020