TUCSON, Ariz. — Illicit fentanyl smuggled from Mexico into the Southwest has become a profitable new business for drug gangs, helping push the synthetic opioid to the top spot for fatal U.S. overdoses.
Fentanyl powder and sky blue pills known as “Mexican oxy” are being distributed around the U.S. as the drug surpasses heroin for overdose deaths.
But some stays behind in Arizona and other southwestern states, making the region bordering Mexico a hot spot in the nation’s fentanyl crisis and affecting all demographic groups.
Among those killed by the fentanyl pills was Aaron Francisco Chavez, a 19-year-old from Tucson who was a prep cook and dreamed of become a chef to support his young daughter.
He died after taking at least one pill at a Halloween party.