Maricopa County continues to see dramatic rise in prosecution of fentanyl-related cases
(Phoenix) – In Arizona, an average of five people die every day from an opioid overdose according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Meantime, Arizona continues to be a swift-growing importation hub for the drug. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), 28 million fake prescription pills containing fentanyl were seized in Arizona in 2022, nearly half of all pills seized nationwide. In just the first four months of 2023, the DEA has already seized 25 million pills, which places our state well on-track to surpass last year’s numbers.
On this National Fentanyl Awareness Day, Maricopa County also continues to witness the dangerous, destructive effects of this drug. Here, the number of opioid-related overdoses has risen by more than 5000% since 2015.
Since the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) began electronically tracking the number of fentanyl cases submitted for prosecution in the latter half of 2020, the upward trend has been unmistakable. In 2020, 923 cases were submitted for prosecution; by 2022, the number jumped to 6,629. In the four months of 2023 so far, MCAO has already received 2,432 submittals; if that trend continues, 2023 will be another record-setting year.
|Year ||Cases Submitted to MCAO for Possession/Sale/Transport/Manufacture of Fentanyl|
As too many families already know, illicit fentanyl continues be to used to make fake prescription pills – sometimes laced with cocaine, heroin, or even a veterinary tranquilizer – that can, in some cases, cause death with a single dose.
“I’ve spoken one-on-one with parents who have lost their kids to this poison. It is gut-wrenching to hear them talk about having a conversation with a child one evening, only to find that child gone the next morning,” said Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. “We will keep prosecuting these cases and continue to get this information in front of parents and the public.”
"The fentanyl issue is personal to me because it is ripping families in my district apart, taking the lives of kids that are the same age as mine, in some cases. That’s why I promised to put significant county resources into keeping this dangerous drug out of our neighborhoods and punishing those responsible for bringing it here,” said Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “I applaud County Attorney Mitchell for being an active and committed partner in not only prosecutions, but education.”
You can find excellent information here about how to prevent the abuse of fentanyl and other opioid medications.
More information from Maricopa County on how fentanyl is affecting our community can be found here.