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UNCLASSIFIED
                                                                                   DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION

                 Fentanyl Resembling Black Tar Heroin Identified in Tucson

                 In August 2018, Tucson Police Department (PD) officers arrested an individual in possession of
                 two individually wrapped bindles, one containing .75 grams of methamphetamine and the other
                 containing .52 grams of a dark tar-like substance with a vinegar odor. The Arizona High Intensity
                 Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Counter Narcotics Alliance Task Force submitted both substances
                 to the Tucson PD Crime Laboratory for analysis
                 and identified that the black tar substance was   Figure 6. Fentanyl Resembling Black          Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids
                 fentanyl, most likely mixed with sugar. Although   Tar Heroin
                 there have been seizures of fentanyl mixed
                 with black tar heroin, this is the first known
                 submission to the Tucson PD Crime Laboratory of
                 fentanyl made to resemble black tar heroin. For
                 context, in CY 2018, out of 1,283 total fentanyl
                 exhibits, STRL analyzed 14 exhibits of “black tar”
                 fentanyl. Of those, five contained heroin.
                                                                    Source: Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area



                 laboratories across the country, continuing    Use
                 the trend of the past several years. Fentanyl
                 with heroin was the most commonly observed     Fentanyl use remains high in the United States
                 mixture, with over nine times as many fentanyl   and is a major contributor to the ongoing
                 and heroin mixtures identified as fentanyl and   epidemic of drug overdose deaths. The high
                 cocaine mixtures (see Figure 5). Between 2016   potency and powerful effects of fentanyl
                 and 2017, the number of reports of fentanyl    continue to cause users to overdose and die in
                 and heroin increased 97 percent; the number    record high numbers. The Centers for Disease
                 of reports of fentanyl and cocaine increased 74   Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 47
                 percent; and the number of reports of fentanyl   percent increase in synthetic opioid-involved
                 with methamphetamine increased 173 percent.    deaths from 19,413 deaths in 2016 to 28,466
                                                                deaths in 2017. Synthetic opioids were present
                                                                in more drug-involved overdose deaths than
                                                                any other illicit drug for the second consecutive
                                                                year. While other substances, such as tramadol,
                                                                are included in the synthetic opioid category,
                                                                fentanyl is chiefly responsible for the synthetic
                                                                opioid-involved deaths reported in this category.
                                                                Fentanyl-involved overdose deaths continue to
                                                                be highest in the Great Lakes, Midwest, and
                                                                Northeast regions of the United States (see
                                                                Figure 7). In 2017, West Virginia, Ohio, New
                                                                Hampshire, Maryland, and Massachusetts




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        12  — NARCOTIC OFFICERS MAGAZINE™  FEBRUARY 2020
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