Seattle police seized 650K fentanyl pills in 2021

Dec 15, 2021, 1:31 PM | Updated: Dec 17, 2021, 4:56 pm
Pictured here are about 50,000 fentanyl pills. Seattle police seized 650,000 in 2021 alone. (Photo courtesy of SPD)
(Photo courtesy of SPD)

Seattle police have seized 650,000 fentanyl pills in 2021, 10 times what they got last year.

This comes in the same year that fentanyl deaths doubled in King County, reaching a total of 331.

King County councilmember calls for task force amid dramatic spike in fatal overdoses

Department of Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer says right now in King County, fentanyl “is everywhere on the streets.”

“There are millions upon millions of pills at any given time in this community,” Hammer said.

And it is a crime of deception, as fentanyl is deliberately designed to look like ordinary pain pills.

“These are counterfeit pills,” Hammer said. “They are legitimately stamped with the markings of another type of pill.”

Along with the deception comes violence. Seattle police seized 57 handguns, nine rifles, and four shotguns this year, interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said.

Hammer explained that fentanyl is largely the drug of choice for manufacturers in Mexico to produce and for cartels to smuggle through a highly organized transportation network.

“It’s cheaper to manufacture and the high is greater. … This is a multi-billion-dollar industry set up by these drug cartels that know exactly how to exploit and victimize individuals,” Hammer said.

Even small amounts of fentanyl can be deadly, so Hammer says it’s very important for parents to warn their kids about not taking these pills at parties.

“A young person at a party may think that they’re taking a legitimate painkiller, but it’s very likely to be laced with fentanyl — and that pill could kill them,” Diaz said.

Hammer pointed out that this has already happened among high school students in King County.

“I have two kids in high school, and I am in fear when they go out to parties with other friends because I am afraid someone is going to bring some pills, … and one of those kids is going to die,” Hammer said, adding, “I cannot stress enough what the chief said about having those conversations.”

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott reported in November that King County saw a 24% increase in deadly overdoses in 2020. By the third quarter of 2021, the county had already surpassed that increase and was on track to see the largest spike in fatal overdoses from drugs and alcohol in a decade, according to recent data from the King County Medical Examiner.

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Seattle police seized 650K fentanyl pills in 2021