NEW YORK (PIX11) — Drug use, seizures, and overdose deaths are at an all-time high in New York City, and experts say the spike came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when dealers started using social media to get the pills delivered to doorsteps—and they haven’t stopped.
“We’re seeing the cartels are really taking advantage of COVID and pushing new markets,” said Ray Donovan, who’s the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special agent in charge of its New York Division. “Once the pandemic hit New York, the cartels started stock piling and producing a lot of more narcotics, and as soon as the state and city started opening up, flooded New York City.”
As of July 11, DEA agents seized 806 kilograms of fentanyl—compared to 240 kilograms by this time last year. That’s an increase of 236%. So far this year, the DEA says 2,939 kilograms of methamphetamine has been seized, compared to 690 kilos of meth the same time last year, a 326% increase.
Sadly, overdose deaths in the five boroughs have also been soaring, with 75% of the fatalities being linked to fentanyl. “One pill could certainly kill,” Donovan said.
The amount of drugs being seized is going up, but so are the number guns being taken off the streets and the incidents of violence linked to drug distribution, according to Donovan. However, he said most alarming is social media taking the place of dark alleys—and users are getting younger and younger.
“Individuals are going on chatrooms and ordering fentanyl pills, or going to social media and having the pills delivered to their doorstep,” he said. And it’s not coming from the corners of the dark web, either. “Everything from Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook messenger—younger drug traffickers are utilizing technology to advance their market and deliver drugs to kids.”
Agents said not only are they partnering with all law enforcement agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the NYPD, they’re also looking to partner with the community. You can report drug activity anonymously at anytime online at DEA.gov.