DEA to seize nearly 700 pounds of fentanyl in 2022, up from last two years’ total

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – 111 days is how long it took Becky Fuqua’s daughter, Jena, to lose her battle with addiction in 2018.

“Xanax was the start of the shock and the exposure to fentanyl,” Fuqua said.

Jen was only 20 when he died, which still feels like yesterday to Fuqua.

“That’s one thing my son told me before I lost him. He said, ‘Mom, I never thought it would be me,'” Fuqua said.

Fuqua is among thousands of family members across the St. Louis area who know someone who has died from fentanyl.

The St. Louis Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration says there have been 1,030 fentanyl-related deaths in the 2021 calendar year.

“Unfortunately, you have a demand, and we have to get away from that demand,” said Michael Davis, special agent in charge of the DEA’s St. Louis division.

Today, the DEA announced that a record 671 pounds of Fentanyl has been seized through 2022 across Missouri, Kansas and southern Illinois. That’s a 41% increase from 2021, when 396 pounds of the deadly opiates were seized.

Here are the year-over-year comparisons:

· FY 2022 – £671

· FY 2021 – £396

· FY 2020 – 180 pounds

· FY 2019 – 227 pounds

· FY 2018 – 77 pounds

“We can’t catch everything that’s going on, so you have to be aware that these types of drugs are out of whack and can kill you or your family,” Davis said.

News 4 asked the DEA if the amount of fentanyl seized so far this year is related to arresting more people and groups selling fentanyl or increased access to the drug itself.

“It’s a little bit of both,” Davis said. “Of course, we’re working hard, we’re trying to stop these drugs and this fentanyl powder before it gets into our communities, causing overdose deaths and harming our citizens. However, you also have cartels and drug trafficking organizations that get this fentanyl from Mexico that comes across our borders and eventually hits our highway system and our interstate system that goes east into the heartland. “

Davis says their departments, along with the help of local police jurisdictions, have stepped up their efforts to curb trafficking as much as possible.

“We have prohibition departments at the airport. We have interdiction units on the highway that we work with and we also do a lot of overdose death investigations,” he said. “Unfortunately, these drugs are making it to consumers and citizens in Missouri, Kansas and southern Illinois, and people are dying. And so it’s our duty to hold these people accountable for these deaths.”

Davis says another layer of the ongoing fentanyl epidemic is that they are also seeing things like rainbow pills, fentanyl in multiple colors and appearing.

“It looks very similar, it’s stamped with the same M and 30 on the back with the blue pill here. So that’s a key indication for generic fentanyl pills,” he said.

The appearance is used as a marketing tactic to make people think these drugs are harmless, but it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to kill someone.

“We see them in the Kansas City area, though [the] The DEA hasn’t seized anything here,” Davis said. “But believe me, if they’re in Kansas City, it’s only a matter of time before we see it here in the St. Louis area.”

Davis says it’s important to be proactive and know what you’re getting into, even if you’re taking legal drugs.

“If you’re not sure where the pill came from, the doctor’s office or the pharmacy, don’t take it because it could be a deadly drug,” he said. “Because we see oxycodone, we see Xanax, other different types of pills that certainly look like legal drugs, but are actually pills laced with fentanyl.”

He also says that since more drug dealing is done through social media, families should also be vigilant about their children’s interactions on platforms like Snapchat.

“If you see any of these types of conversations on your child’s phone, that’s a big sign,” Davis said.

Fuqua says it’s no surprise that access to fentanyl is getting worse.

“When we talk about fentanyl and we talk about it in the drug supply, this is expected and this will not be the last crisis. Fentanyl has replaced heroin,” he said.

Fuqua says that preventing access to fentanyl alone doesn’t eliminate the root cause of those struggling with addiction.

“And the root cause will always be that our nation has not been compassionate and empathetic and willing to understand that those who suffer from drug use do so because it is a valid disease,” he said. “It’s very easy for our society to say no to my child.”

He believes more emphasis should be placed on educating the public about the dangers of illegal drugs and removing the stigma around talking about mental health and addiction.

“Educate about the risk, educate the parents,” Fuqua said. “Some parents may think it will never be their child. I’m telling you, it slips in the back door, and when you think you’re looking, it slips in the back door.”

We have extensive coverage of the fentanyl crisis in the St. Louis area. Watch our documentary, “Sunshine: The Fentanyl Crisis in St. Louis,” along with resources and ways you can help.

The Latest

To Top