KEW GARDENS, Queens (PIX11) — When a team of Drug Enforcement Administration agents stopped a car at188th Street and Hillside Avenue in Queens on Nov. 28, they said they found enough fentanyl to make 20,000 counterfeit pills that could masquerade as Percocet or Oxycontin or Xanax.
And when the Queens district attorney announced the indictment of Dennis Carrol, the Long Island man who allegedly transported the lethal drug, she also revealed some troubling statistics.
“Overdose fatalities are up more than 50 percent in Queens this year,” DA Melinda Katz pointed out, “and three of every four of those deaths are attributed to fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives.”
For grieving parents receiving toxicology reports weeks after the deaths, the news is often a shock.
The DEA, armed with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said 107,622 Americans died from drug poisonings in 2021, and over 66 percent are directly related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
“A lot of people believe when they buy pills on the street that they’re also pharmaceutical pills,” Katz said. “Quite often, they’re laced with fentanyl.
Katz noted that 50 percent of the people dying of overdoses in Queens County are over the age of 50. Although she felt the number was surprising, she understands that a generation that may have gotten addicted to painkillers turned to heroin and fentanyl when prescription pain medication became far less available.
This week, a group of Long Island parents who lost children to fentanyl joined Steve Chassman, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) to warn families about the dangers of partying during the holiday season, when there’s great uncertainty about what, exactly, is in the drug supply.
“Fentanyl is poisoning a whole generation of people, and we have to overcome this stigma as a community and a nation,” Chassman said.