DETROIT, Mich. (Michigan News Source) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Detroit intercepted a major narcotics operation on June 2, seizing nearly six pounds of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that has been a key culprit in Michigan’s surge of overdose deaths.

During routine inspections on June 2 at Detroit’s Fort Street Cargo Facility, a K-9 unit flagged the presence of synthetic opioids in inbound international mail. Subsequent examination revealed over six pounds of fentanyl pills, marking one of the largest such seizures on the northern border in the last five years. 

MORE NEWS: Gov. Whitmer on Trump Shooting: ‘No Place for Political Violence’

“One of CBP’s primary objectives is the prevention of dangerous narcotics such as fentanyl from entering the United States,” Port Director Devin Chamberlain said in a statement. “I’m proud of Detroit’s Express Consignment Team for their diligent inspection that led to the successful interception of this deadly drug.”

In recent years, fentanyl has become a predominant factor in the surge of overdose deaths. A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the number of fentanyl pills seized by law enforcement in 2023 was 2,300 times greater than in 2017, with over 115 million fentanyl pills seized last year​ (National Institute on Drug Abuse)​.

Moreover, the opioid crisis has deep roots in Michigan, with overdose deaths growing fivefold since 2000. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl were implicated in 2,223 out of 2,991 drug overdose deaths in Michigan in 2022, marking a substantial increase from previous years.

The rise of fentanyl has exacerbated this crisis, turning it into one of the most pressing public health issues of our time. Studies have shown that law enforcement seizures of fentanyl-laced pills have risen dramatically, from 44 million in 2021 to over 115 million in 2022. The number of individual pills containing fentanyl seized by law enforcement was 2,300 times greater in 2023 compared to 2017, emphasizing the scale of the issue​ (Addiction Group)​​ (National Institute on Drug Abuse)​.

“What appears to be the case is that people buy or use a drug without realizing it’s been laced with fentanyl,”  Brad Uren, M.D., a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine, said. “In other cases, people do purchase fentanyl knowing what it is, but not how powerful it is. Then, they overdose”​ (Michigan Medicine)​.

For more information and resources on the opioid crisis in Michigan, visit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.