One deeply disturbing photo has exposed the stark reality of a drug that could just as soon ‘wipe out’ Australia as it has in the US, the so-called ‘killer epidemic’.
Images show users of fentanyl – an opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine – in Philadelphia so affected they are being compared to ‘zombies’.
Fentanyl is prescribed for ailments such as chronic pain, cancer, and surgery, but is increasingly being used by addicts seeking a high and sometimes reduced by heroin.
This can lead to fatal consequences, most famously associated with the death of American musician Prince in 2016.
Authorities fear what will happen if an illegal version of fentanyl gains a foothold in places like Wagga Wagga and Dubbo in NSW, where the ice drug is already a major problem.
A deeply disturbing photo has established the stark reality of a drug that could soon ‘wipe out’ Australia as it has in the US, where it is being called the ‘killer epidemic’. Some fentanyl users in Philadelphia are so affected by it that they have been compared to ‘zombies’ (pictured)
Since 2019, AFP has prevented 29 kilograms – around 5.5 million lethal doses – of fentanyl from being sold on Australian roads. AFP and ABF officers inspect a shipment of intercepted fentanyl in the Port of Melbourne
Fentanyl was infamously linked to the death of American musician Prince (pictured) in 2016
“If non-pharmaceutical fentanyl gets into those rural areas it’s going to wipe them out,” Alex Caruana of the Australian Federal Police Association (AFP) told news.com.au.
He said if Fentanyl were indeed used flagrantly it would be an enormous cost to the government to fight it.
Since 2019, AFP has prevented 29 kilograms – around 5.5 million lethal doses – of fentanyl from being sold on Australian roads.
The 11 kilograms came in just one raid on Melbourne Harbor in December 2021 when AFP and Australian Border Force (ABF) officers seized more than 11 kg of pure fentanyl powder.
The shipment, which was sent from Canada, saw the drug crammed into cases of military-grade ammunition, with police slamming attempts to get it inside.
ABF Commander James Watson said the find was an “incredible” number.
“We were completely surprised by the size of the detection and the audacity of the import attempt,” Commander Watson told The Age.
“I would describe it as an act of total asshole, frankly.” The impact this is having on our community, if it gets to the streets… can’t bear to think about it.
Mr Caruana said fentanyl was not only potentially lethal to those who used it illegally, it could also be extremely dangerous for authorities handling it at the border.
“It’s well known that when fentanyl powder is airborne, people react differently,” he said.
“So you probably only need to inhale a very small amount, I’m talking less than a gram, for it to be lethal to you.”
“If non-pharmaceutical fentanyl gets into … rural areas, it’s going to wipe them out,” said Alex Caruana (pictured) of the Australian Federal Police Association.
11.2kg of pure fentanyl (pictured) was intercepted on a shipment to Australia from Canada
The drug is used mostly for medical purposes in Australia, but overseas it is sometimes intercut with heroin, often with fatal results.
In the two decades from 2001 to 2021, there were 833 deaths in Australia related to fentanyl, according to a report from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
Pharmaceutical fentanyl (used in prescriptions) caused 93 percent of these deaths, four percent attributed to illegally produced fentanyl and three percent to fentanyl mixed with other drugs, such as heroin.
The problem is far more advanced in the US, with Centers for Disease Control reporting fentanyl played a critical role in 105,452 overdose deaths in 2022 alone.
This is the kind of horror character the AFP and ABF want to prevent from ever happening in Australia.
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