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Tag: drug abuse

DEA’s War on Synthetic Opioids Targets Cousin of Deadly Fentanyl

Synthetic opioid tablets

Synthetic opioid tablets

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is waging a war against a deadly cousin of the synthetic opioid fentanyl to curb abuse and overdoses.

The move to ban furanyl fentanyl is part of a larger fight against synthetic opioids, which are becoming increasingly available, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The synthetic opioids are often sold over the internet by labs in China.

Already this year, the DEA has characterized five synthetic opioids as “Schedule I,” which means they have no medical purpose and can lead to abuse.

The Journal wrote:

Furanyl fentanyl, a relative newcomer, didn’t appear in a national database that tracks drug seizures until December 2015, according to the DEA. It has quickly emerged as a serious killer among designer opioids. NMS Labs, a major private lab that works with states around the U.S., has tallied 325 deaths linked to furanyl fentanyl this year through October.

The legal form of fentanyl is a strong, up to 50 times the potency of heroin, pain reliever that often is used to help cancer patients manage serious pain. But bootleg versions of fentanyl, often made in China and then mixed into the heroin supply or included in counterfeit prescription pills have amplified the U.S. opioid crisis.

Other Stories of Interest

Heroin Becomes Law Enforcement’s Biggest Concern As Use Skyrockets

800px-HeroinBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Law enforcement nationwide believe heroin abuse is the largest drug threat, overtaking methamphetamine, according to a new DEA survey.

NBC News reports that the seizure of heroin has nearly doubled over the past five years, while the 51% more people are using the highly addictive drug.

“Heroin availability is up across the country, as are abuses, overdoses, and overdose deaths,” says the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, released Wednesday.

One reason heroin has become so popular is because of prescription painkiller abuse. Painkillers and heroin are both opiates.

The number of deaths in 2013 – 46,471 – is the highest on record.

“Roughly half of the overdose deaths are related to abuse of prescription drugs and another 8,000 involve heroin. So combined those two things account for two-thirds of the overdose deaths,” said DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.

Other Stories of Interest

Medical Privacy Laws Hampering Law Enforcement’s Efforts to Crack Down on Drug Deaths

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Law enforcement is struggling to crack down on growing drug abuse because of a lack of recent data on drug deaths, especially from heroin overdoses, NBC News reports.

The problem, which was raised at a gathering of law enforcement Wednesday to discuss drug abuse, is that patient privacy laws are making it difficult for authorities to gather information on patient deaths.

“I don’t care about the names of the individuals, I just need the numbers!” Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsay said at the Police Executive Research Forum.

Information also is lacking on what is sometimes referred to as “drop-offs” at emergency rooms.

Of particular concern is opiate-related deaths because of large spikes in the past two decades.

Column: MLB May Never Eliminate Steroid Problem, But It Has Come a Long Way to Substantially Reducing It

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. His column first appeared in the New York Daily on June 22.

Greg Stejskal

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In August 1994, I was attending an FBI sports presentation conference. The bureau has a program where trained agents make presentations to college and professional sports teams regarding illegal sports gambling and other topics. Representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA were on hand as well, and attendees were made aware of an article I had recently written for the FBI magazine about an undercover operation (named Equine) that targeted illegal steroid distribution. Copies of the article were distributed at the conference.

One evening over some beers, some of the attendees were discussing steroids and their use by players in various sports. I told Kevin Hallinan, then the head of MLB security, that myself and fellow agent, Bill Randall, had learned through the Equine case that a dealer we prosecuted had told us he’d been supplying some MLB players with steroids. I also mentioned to Hallinan that the dealer believed steroid use in MLB was widespread and becoming a bigger problem. One of the players the dealer mentioned was Jose Canseco, then with the A’s.

Hallinan said he had heard reports of steroid use by players, but he didn’t think MLB could do much about it. Baseball was in the midst of trying to resolve a debilitating strike (which would end in 1995), there was no drug-testing program and it would be a full decade before players began being tested for performance-enhancing drug use. Hallinan did not express any interest in talking to the dealer or following up on the information.

The time frame of the FBI conference fell smack in the middle of baseball’s infamous “steroid era,” with such iconic events as the 1998 home run derby between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, which culminated with McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. These long-ball extravaganzas were putting fans back in the seats, but the cost was the integrity of the game.

In the early 2000s, there were revelations of steroid/PED use by players, including Ken Caminiti’s 2002 interview with Sports Illustrated, in which he speculated about widespread doping. Congressional hearings followed in 2005 and 2008, the latter featuring seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens pitted against his former trainer, Brian McNamee. Both Clemens and home run king Barry Bonds were tried in criminal trials, Bonds getting convicted on one count, and Clemens being acquitted of all charges. MLB was on the defensive and initially didn’t react well. But that has changed; MLB has taken the initiative and gained the support of the Players Association in the fight against PEDs. They’ve instituted rigorous testing protocols in their drug-testing program, including taking blood samples to test for human growth hormone.

In my view, more importantly, they are not relying on testing alone to ferret out drug use by players. When a Miami New Times report named numerous major leaguers’ PED links to the Miami anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, MLB attempted to identify the players and get specific information from the newspaper. MLB also sent investigators to Florida and filed a civil suit against Biogenesis, its founder and several others in order to subpoena their records. It appears their aggressive efforts are about to bear fruit. MLB has reportedly convinced Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, to name names and supply records. Players could ultimately be suspended, and it appears that the Players Association is in full support of baseball’s efforts.

istock photo

You would think the baseball commentators and writers would be supportive, too. After all, a few years ago they were chastising MLB for having ignored the PED issue and not taking stronger action. Now, some pundits have said baseball has lost its “war on drugs,” and the large number of players apparently getting steroids from Biogenesis proves it. I would argue that MLB’s dogged efforts and apparent success in identifying the players linked to Biogenesis shows it is beginning to win the war.

I have never been in favor of criminal prosecution of players. They are nothing more than high-profile users. I think MLB is right to aggressively pursue the identification of PED users and then apply the appropriate sanctions. (The standard of proof in an administrative action is considerably lower than in a criminal prosecution.)

Although I warned MLB about the steroid problem almost 19 years ago, and I was concerned that it seemed to ignore the problem, I now commend MLB’s aggressive efforts to continue to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drug use. MLB may never totally eradicate the problem, but it has gone a long way in substantially reducing use. The other professional leagues and the NCAA should take note.

I think Abraham Lincoln’s words are appropriate: “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

 

Jersey City Councilman Arrested Over Pain Pill Prescriptions

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Vincent A. Esposito may need some painkillers to kill the pain from being arrested.

The Madison,  N.J., city councilman, who is also a medical doctor, was arrested Thursday  for writing fraudulent pain pill prescriptions, New Jersey Today reported on Friday. DEA agents and state authorities raided his office.

Vincent A. Esposito, 54, of Madison, New Jersey, also a medical doctor, was arrested on Thursday by officials from the state and the DEA following a search of the doctor’s offices.

Esposito was charged with the distribution of a controlled dangerous substance–namely, OxyConton–and conspiracy, stemming from an investigation of the DEA and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Local law enforcement agencies assisted the investigation as well.

To read more click here.

DEA Asked to Submit Rationale for Pharmacy Suspension Orders

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The DEA was ordered on Monday to submit an explanation of its rationale for attempting to shut down a Florida pharmaceutical distribution center, reports the Associated Press. D.C. US District Judge Reggie Walton gave the agency until the end of next week to make a submission.

The DEA had issued orders earlier this month to suspend the sale of controlled substances by two CVS pharmacies near Orlando and Lakeland, Fla., in an attempt to combat the misuse of pain killers like oxycodone, according to the AP. The pharmacies were giving out large amounts of the drug in excess of legitimate needs, the DEA had said. This is the first time branches of a national pharmacy chain were targets of suspension orders.

To read more click here.

 

St. Louis DEA Fights Growing Heroin Problem

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

DEA agents, in conjunction with local police, arrested more than 50 people in the St. Louis area this week associated with a loose network of heroin trafficking.

Officials hope to double the number of arrests in a fight against a growing problem in the region. A new form of highly-potent and often lethal heroin is selling for as little as $10 a bag, the Columbus, Ind. paper The Republic reported.

“The newer heroin is so potent that some users die before they can remove the syringe from their veins,” The Republic reported. The increased purity has lured suburban and middle-class youths afraid of injecting with needles; the new form can be smoke or snorted and still effective.

“Today isn’t the silver bullet, but this is the beginning of us making our statement and pushing back,” Harry Sommers, DEA’s St. Louis agent in charge, told the Associated Press. In all, Sommers expects to make a total of 104 arrests.

To read more click here.