Federal Raid on Fentanyl Pill Mill Shines Light on Utah’s Opioid Problem

A November 22 drug raid by multiple federal agencies was a “good news/bad news” event for individuals who are concerned about Utah’s opioid abuse epidemic.

The good news is that agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), working in conjunction with National Guard soldiers, were able to seize nearly 100,000 fentanyl pills along with machinery for manufacturing the pills and a significant amount of cash.

The bad news is that the presence of such a large-scale opioid distribution operation indicates the degree to which the abuse of fentanyl and other opioids has permeated the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area and the entire state of Utah.

Opioids Seized, Suspect Arrested

The Nov. 22 raid took place at two houses in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The pill manufacturing machinery was seized from a house in Cottonwood Heights, where one suspect was also arrested. The pills themselves, which were initially identified as oxycodone and Xanax, but many of which were found to contain fentanyl, were taken from a house in South Jordan.

Joining the DEA and the National Guard in this effort to get such a massive amount of fentanyl off the street were personnel from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), and the U.S. Postal Service, who conducted the investigations that led to the raid.

According to an ICE press release, authorities discovered that the illicit opioid distribution ring was using the U.S. postal system to smuggle powdered fentanyl from China to the Salt Lake City metro area. The ring’s members would then turn the powdered fentanyl into pill form at the Cottonwood Heights location in the Salt Lake City area, and would then ship the pills to buyers, again using the U.S. mail.

Opioid Epidemic Endangers Lives

In addition to breaking several state and federal laws, the existence of this and other opioid distribution rings also jeopardizes the health and safety of individuals in the Salt Lake City area, throughout Utah, and across the United States.

Any recreational or otherwise illicit use of opioids such as oxycodone or fentanyl can expose a person to significant possible harm, including death. When the opioids in question are misidentified, as appears to have been the case in the recent Utah raid, the danger only increases.

Fentanyl is exponentially more powerful than oxycodone; it is even much stronger than morphine. Even in supervised medical situations, patients are only prescribed fentanyl after their bodies have developed tolerance to morphine or other less powerful opioid analgesics. Ingesting fentanyl in any situation that does not involve close monitoring by a qualified professional can have catastrophic consequences.

Individuals who abuse fentanyl and survive may find themselves trapped in a dangerous downward spiral of opioid addiction, which can require intensive professional treatment to overcome. Quality care for individuals in the Salt Lake City metro area who have become dependent upon fentanyl and other opioids is available. If you or someone that you love is struggling with such a problem, do not delay – get help today.

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