Police: Fentanyl pills being sold for as little as 40 cents in Seattle
Sep 22, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 4:57 pm
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
On the streets of Seattle, fentanyl can be purchased for as little as 40 cents, according to the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
“We can confirm the price of fentanyl has dropped to as little as 40 cents a pill,” SPD Public Information Officer Judinna Gulpan told MyNorthwest. “This may be due to the ‘dealer’ or the wholesale price of the pill when purchased in bulk. The street value of a fentanyl pill usually is around $3 to $5.”
Last month, a Portland Police Bureau Officer David Baer arrested a man with approximately 3,500 blue pills laced with fentanyl. The man was selling the pills for as little as 80 cents each, according to KGW8.
“We thought there’s no way you can get cheaper than a dollar,” Baer told KGW8. “Obviously, with market demands and all that, the economies of the drug market, he said $0.80 and we even confirmed that because I’m like there’s no way he said 80 cents.”
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Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The drug has been the main driver of opioid overdose deaths in Washington. In 2022, fentanyl was involved in 90% of fatal opioid overdoses in the state and 65% of all overdose deaths, according to the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug and Alcohol Institute. And with fentanyl flooding the illicit drug market throughout Seattle, the price for a pill has dropped substantially over the past few years.
Last year, King County seized 755,000 fentanyl pills, 30 pounds of fentanyl powder and about $17.5 million worth of drugs overall.
For the last few years, government agencies have been tracking the rapid growth of fentanyl in the U.S. and how cities are being flooded with the dangerous drug. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials released a statement in December 2021 warning that criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing deadly fentanyl and fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills, using chemicals sourced largely from China. These fake prescription pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions — such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Xanax and other medicines. The DEA noted fentanyl has been found in every state in the country.
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With fentanyl being so readily available and affordable, the California legislature is mulling over one lawmaker’s proposal to cap the cost of overdose-reversing drug naloxone to $10.
More on fentanyl in Seattle
Seattle Times reporter Lauren Girgis wrote a story published last month on how fentanyl is flooding Seattle, finding many people are still trying to buy illicit, highly addictive opioid pills without knowing most are tainted with fentanyl.
“While open air drug markets — like the area around Third and Pine — are traditionally thought of as dealers’ playgrounds, DEA special agent Galvan said every distributor mastered social media use after the pandemic,” Girgis wrote.
KTTH radio host Jason Rantz responded to the piece with one of his own, citing “the country’s porous border” and the Washington Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the state’s felony possession law in State v. Blake as “obvious” reasons Seattle is drowning in fentanyl pills.
“It’s less obvious how and why fentanyl is in Seattle? Seriously?” Rantz rhetorically asked in his follow-up article. “Girgis and her editors are either shamelessly lying to protect their ideological bias or are so embarrassingly ignorant that it should disqualify the paper from tackling the drug crisis in the future.”
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U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has hosted and led multiple roundtable discussions in several counties throughout the state this year (starting in May) to get a better grasp at understanding and handing this crippling issue. The discussion involve first responders, health care providers, law enforcement and members of the community who have been personally impacted by fentanyl.
“We are looking for the feedback and solutions that are working here on the ground, but obviously we are here because this is a crisis,” Sen. Cantwell said in a prepared statement. “We need to take a multi-pronged approach to tackling this crisis. That means increasing capacity for treatment centers, better supporting first responders and law enforcement, including stocking them with naloxone and Narcan, and helping people before they become addicted by increasing our mental health care workforce, affordable housing, and better educating the public on how deadly fentanyl is. We also need to cut off the supply of this scourge before it gets into our communities in the first place.”