You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Whatcom fentanyl seizures are up more than 25 times since 2020. This is the result

The Bellingham Herald logo The Bellingham Herald 2/5/2023 Robert Mittendorf, The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

Feb. 5—Local law-enforcement seizures of the powerful opioid fentanyl increased more than three times last year, and are up more than 25 times since 2020, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office.

"Many young Americans remain unaware that illegally manufactured fentanyl has become increasingly common in counterfeit prescription pills and illicit drugs, often in fatal amounts. Fentanyl is cheap, profitable, and deadly," the Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page this week.

A total of 559,396 fentanyl pills were seized locally in 2022, up from 142,877 pills in 2021 and 20,050 pills in 2020, according to the Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force.

That's one explanation for the sharp increase in opioid deaths last year, Sheriff Bill Elfo told the Whatcom County Council in October 2022.

In a grim report that illustrated the human toll of the highly addictive, potent and readily available opioid drug, Elfo told the council that there were 37 confirmed overdose deaths in the first seven months of last year, and 20 involved fentanyl.

Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, the Sheriff's Office said on Facebook.

Two milligrams of fentanyl, about the size of a few grains of sand, can be lethal.

Bellingham Fire Capt. Joe Frank, who manages the Community Paramedic Program, told the Bellingham City Council last year that street-level use of fentanyl and carfentanil — a powerful version of the drug intended for animals — has been rising since 2017.

"It skyrocketed in 2015 and it hasn't tapered down at all," Frank told a council committee in February 2022.

The Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force focuses on building criminal cases against fentanyl traffickers.

"We continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to disrupt the flow of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs into Whatcom County and hold those involved accountable for their actions," the Sheriff's Office said.

(c)2023 The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


More From The Bellingham Herald

The Bellingham Herald
The Bellingham Herald
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon