Federal authorities intercepted almost $1.7 million worth of fentanyl at the Area Port of Philadelphia last week, marking another seizure in an aggressive push to take the deadly synthetic opioid off the streets. The narcotics detector dog reportedly sniffed out the drugs in a shipment of iron oxide that originated in China. Further testing helped officers identify the substance as fentanyl, which customs officials said could be sold for $34,000 per kilogram on the street.
Nationally, almost 1,000 pounds of fentanyl had been seized by customs officials in the first four months of 2018, the agency reported, up from 440 pounds in all of 2016.
CBP officers seized 440 pounds nationally in 2016, and that number grew to 951 pounds in 2017, and it has risen to 984 pounds through April 2018.
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Adding to the good news, Customs and Border Protection said fentanyl seizures are trending up.
Fentanyl use has soared in recent years, moving from an obscure opioid to a more common street drug. Its presence has put authorities on high alert, as the drug can be 50 times more potent than heroin.
In response to the uptick in fentanyl shipments, CBP officials have increased preparedness training for its agents and dogs to safely detect and handle the substance. It is legally manufactured and distributed in the United States, but the drug is frequently abused via theft, fraudulent prescriptions and illicit distribution by patients, physicians and pharmacists.