BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Just released numbers show a skyrocketing and record number of Marylanders dying from drug overdoses.
State health officials say 2,089 people overdosed to death last year. Most of them were from ingesting powerful opioids.
The alarming number is a 66 percent increase from the year before.
Governor Larry Hogan has already declared a state of emergency over the crisis.
Some of the most deadly synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and carfentanyl, the kind that first responders are fearful of even touching, are coming through the mail from China.
As opioids kill Marylanders at a record pace, law enforcement agencies are dealing with evermore powerful forms of synthetic heroin.
The Drug Enforcement Agency says they have traced the supply chain around the world.
“Most of the fentanyl and carfentanyl that is being brought into the United States is being manufactured in China,” says Todd Edwards of the DEA. “From China, you can order it on the internet and have it delivered to your house and so that’s how it’s getting here.”
China has only recently cracked down on thousands of illicit labs making opioids so powerful, they were once tested by the government as chemical weapons.
Cartels have it shipped to Maryland, sometimes for less than $5,000 dollars, where it’s sold on the street for 20 times that.
Drug dogs can’t detect it in packages and federal agents are relying more than ever on intelligence.
“You can use the regular web, some people use the dark web and purchase it with bitcoins,” Edwards says.
It’s also shipped in from Mexico and Canada and along I-95, the “heroin highway,” where states to the south have already seen their first overdoses from gray death, an opioid so powerful a pin-drop-sized amount can kill.
It took the life of Wynette Haviland’s daughter.
“It is deadly. The first time you ever do it, you can die from it,” she says.
Chinese sellers just want money, they openly sell the poison online, no questions asked, and it’s a race against time to stop shipments and save lives.
“That’s the bottom line: is your life worth this? And it’s not,” Edwards says.