On 20/20, ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff investigates the fentanyl epidemic in the United States. Fentanyl is prescribed to treat severe pain, but it is also being made and sold illegally for recreational use. The black market narcotic, which is “30 to 50 times more potent than heroin,” is being imported from China. Woodruff goes to the JFK International Mail Facility to interview U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers who report that fentanyl is a lot more profitable than heroin. He also tracks down a source in China. Note: Woodruff also interviews family and friends of the late musician Prince who died after taking what he thought was Vicodin but was actually a counterfeit painkiller that was laced with fentanyl.
At JFK airport, customs officer Kim Ciccolella tells Woodruff, “This fiscal year we’ve only gotten 2 kilos of heroin, but we’ve got over 33 kilos of fentanyl.” (One kilo is about 2.2 pounds.) And that’s just at the one site, JFK. So far this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has pulled 217 boxes of fentanyl from China. Last year it was 86 boxes; and the year before that it was (7) seven. The officer demonstrates how the black market drug is cleverly hidden in packages including inside teddy bears and greeting cards. 20/20 airs Fridays at 10pm on ABC.