A look inside the DEA's drug vault

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - From June to November, more than 4,000 people in Arizona died of a suspected overdose and it clear the opioid crisis continues to ravage the state of Arizona. 

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arizona, the most alarming trend that detectives have seen recently is a 4,400% increase in the seizure of fentanyl pills in just one year.

KGUN9 was granted special access inside the Drug Enforcement Administration's warehouse.

A vault so secure, we cannot even tell you where it's located.

Most of the drugs seized by DEA agents in Arizona end up at this warehouse. The drugs are just sitting, waiting to be analyzed and destroyed. 

All the drugs found at the facility have probably been there for several years. From spice to marijuana to many types of opioids. They are stored in the warehouse as cases continue through the judicial process.

The tour revealed all the drugs seized in the last few years.

In the warehouse, we found yellow-taped pallets filled with boxes wrapped in plastic, cans, and even cement mixers used by drug dealers to make the more modern drugs seized a few years ago.

Harder drugs are only stored temporarily and taken to the DEA's laboratory for analysis, DEA spokesperson Erica Curry explained.

"The trend we can't stop talking about is all opioids," she said. 

Fentanyl. The powerful synthetic opioid analgestic that is similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times stronger, is too dangerous to keep in this vault.

"Fentanyl is being added to pretty much everything," Curry said. 

According to Curry, Arizona has seized more of these fentanyl pills than any other southwest border state.

Just a couple of months ago, 30 million fentanyl pills were seized in one day. They were being manufactured to look just like oxycodone pills and sold on our streets.

"That was a major seizure for us, probably the biggest seizure in the U.S. to date, we were happy to take those pills off the streets," Curry said. 

It is a newer trend that has taken over and has become the crucial part of the opioid epidemic in our state.

 "We have really seen (it) explode in the last year, but we can't talk about it enough, it is very dangerous," Curry explained.

It is actually more dangerous than most people think, "we're talking about two milligrams of fentanyl that could kill somebody," she added.

That is the reason why they are destroyed at the DEA facility.


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