A drug more threatening than cocaine or heroin could soon flood into Europe after killing more than 100,000 people in the United States, a report has warned.
Synthetic fentanyl could be the new face of the drugs war, with fears raised following a number of recent drug raids in Europe.
The highly-addictive drug – 100 times more potent than morphine – is one of the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Belgium could now be positioned at the centre of its trade, being the main arrival point for narcotics, The Times reports.
Kristian Vanderwaeren, Head of Customs Service at Brussels airport, told the newspaper that ‘fentanyl is the cocaine of the future’.
A drug more threatening than cocaine or heroin could soon flood into Europe after killing over 100,000 people in the United States, reports warn (file image)
He suggested that while only 10g of fentanyl was seized at the airport last year, it should not be underestimated, with warnings that it is more dangerous than cocaine and heroin.
‘And as is often the case with new drugs: first it drips, but then the floodgates open,’ he added.
The United States is already facing a fentanyl epidemic, causing 1,500 deaths every week in 2021.
While the drug has often been used by cancer patients seeking relief from pain, its potency has made it a popular illicit street drug.
It started off as a cheap and potent alternative to heroin which could be injected or smoked through a pipe.
But its cheap manufacturing costs have made it the go-to cutting agent for cartels and drug dealers in the US looking to stretch their supply.
This image from Mexico’s national defense forces shows a makeshift drugs lab in northwest Mexico, where officers discovered precursor chemicals, fentanyl paste, weapons and drug making gear, from November 2021
The drug was initially produced in India and China and mailed to recipients across North America. Makeshift labs have since sprung up in Mexico to receive the precursor chemicals from Asia, mix them or press them into pills, and smuggle them into the US
Now, it is found in everything from cocaine to molly and street benzodiazepines like Xanax.
The frighteningly strong drug can kill at doses of just 2 milligrams of fentanyl – or the equivalent of five grains of salt.
Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in December: ‘Substance use is more dangerous than it has ever been, as fentanyl has continued to permeate the illicit drug supply, increasing the risk for overdoses among both people with substance use disorders as well as those who use drugs occasionally.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were 109,673 overdose deaths in the year to April — a new record. Many were due to fentanyl, pictured
A European coalition against illicit drugs is to take place in April, which will see US security agencies join the Belgian justice minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne in talks about the issue.
Around 5,800 overdose deaths took place in the European Union during 2020, a monitoring report outlined.
Mr Van Quickenborne told The Times that while the drug has not arrived en masse to Europe yet, it is important to be ‘very very vigilant’.