Two senators from the state of West Virginia are pleading for tougher measures at a federal level to combat the importation of fentanyl into the United States. In a letter to the heads of the Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Department of Homeland Security, senators Amy Klobuchar and Shelley Moore Capito pointed to statistics showing that fentanyl overdoses are on the rise, noting that fentanyl-containing drugs are often “purchased illegally on the dark web.”
The senators have requested that the departments outline specific steps they will take to “increase their capacity to conduct cyber investigations into fentanyl trafficking,” posing a series of questions that pertain to combatting the pervasiveness of fentanyl purchases from darknet markets. The state of West Virginia has been hit particularly hard by the ongoing opioid epidemic in America, with an attorney general from the state going so far as to attempt to classify the drug as a “weapon of mass destruction.”
“For the past several years, West Virginia has had the highest number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the nation. This crisis has ravaged the state, destroying thousands of families…
The lack of treatment options is not only a problem for those suffering from addiction. It impacts businesses seeking to hire new workers and help employees in need of treatment, and it hurts homeowners concerned with declining neighborhoods and home values.” – office of Sen. Capito, WV
Synthetic opioid overdoses have risen drastically in the US since 2014, coinciding with the explosion of fentanyl-containing products purchased from darknet markets. Source: CDC
West Virginia has led the nation in drug overdoses by state for years, and by a wide margin. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was an estimated 81.4 overdoses per 100,000 West Virginians in 2020 (age-adjusted rate). The next closes location was Washington D.C. with a rate of 58.1, followed by Kentucky at 49.2.