Even as law enforcement tries to reduce the number of deaths attributed to the super-opioid fentanyl, some states are trying to increase them through their use for capital punishment. But it raises the same Constitutional questions posed by other methods of state execution regarding “cruel and unusual punishment,” says TCR’s columnist on drug issues.
Despite recent “scare” stories, there’s no evidence that simply touching fentanyl can lead to overdoses. No one disputes that it’s a dangerous drug, but unsupported fears about the effects of exposure could make first responders less willing to help individuals who are overdosing, writes TCR’s columnist on addiction issues. Meanwhile AP reports on a new test strip that can help heroin users detect fentanyl.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses seen by hospital emergency rooms increased between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 across the US. “We have an emergency on our hands,” says acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat.
Drug deaths among African Americans in urban counties rose 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate among whites rose 19 percent.
Nationally, there were 63,632 drug deaths in 2016, nearly 20 per 100,000 people. That was 21 percent higher than the rate in 2015, when 52,404 died, a federal report found. Drug overdose death rates increased between 2015 and 2016 among all age groups, with the largest jump — 29 percent — among those ages 25-34.
A U.S. Sentencing Commission hearing was told Tuesday that customs and border patrol agents had seen a “dramatic increase in seizures” of fentanyl and its analogs, from one kilogram in fiscal year 2013, to 208 kilograms in 2016, to 550 kilograms in 2017—a 160 percent increase over the previous year.
With global cocaine production estimated to be at historic levels, the flow of drugs, money and weapons through the Dominican Republic and its Caribbean neighbors looks poised to grow, reports InSight Crime. Homegrown criminal cells are also becoming stronger in a country that has traditionally come under the influence of Colombian and Mexican crime syndicates.