US Mexico Drugs

FILE - This undated photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows some of over 165 pounds (75 kilograms) of suspected methamphetamine seized after smugglers tried to float it across the border from Nogales, Mexico, by roping together dozens of packages and sending them through an underground drainage tunnel into Arizona, according to federal officials. 

(The Center Square) – Fentanyl is a growing problem for Arizona.

Opioids, including fentanyl, are becoming a bigger problem in Arizona

Synthetic opioid-related overdoses killed more than 71,000 Americans in 2021 -- about three-quarters of all overdose deaths, according to Common Sense Institute Arizona. And fentanyl continues to plague Arizona.

Fentanyl causes the majority (57%) of the state’s drug overdoses, up from just 4% in 2017. Meanwhile, prescription opioids are only involved in just 36% of cases.

Common Sense Institute Arizona found that the fentanyl crisis results in $53 billion in economic costs for Arizona. This cost includes substance abuse treatment, law enforcement, health care, and reduced productivity.

The report found that law enforcement encounters with fentanyl are sharply rising. It said Arizona’s Department of Public Safety is on pace to seize 1,800 pounds of fentanyl this year, including 656 pounds in border counties alone. Meanwhile, the department seized 239 pounds worth throughout the state in 2020.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has been seizing fewer drugs at the border despite the increased flow. Border Patrol agents seized 5,500 pounds of illegal drugs in Arizona in 2020 (excluding marijuana) but are on pace to seize fewer than 3,000 pounds this year.

“Federal border officials have been forced to reallocate scarce resources to the interdiction and processing of migrants since 2020,” Common Sense Institute Arizona wrote in its report. “Failure to complete physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, combined with a lack of enforcement attention, has enabled sufficient flow of fentanyl into the United States to fill a demand shift created in part by the crackdown on mail-order and prescription drugs.”