31 Oct, 2023 @ 16:30
1 min read

Fentanyl, the horror drug causing US overdose crisis, yet to arrive in Spain, says police report

Police Warn Of 'killer' Drug That's Cheaper Than Cocaine On Spain's Costa Blanca
Policia Nacional image

FENTANYL, the synthetic opiate that is causing a major health crisis in the United States, is yet to arrive on Spanish shores. That’s according to data from the Spanish authorities, who say that the presence of the drug is anecdotal at best. 

In the last six years, just 379 grams of the substance have been seized by the police in Spain. That’s according to data from the Intelligence Centre against Terrorism and Organised Crime (CITCO), and reported by Spanish daily El Pais

Of that total, the newspaper also stated, 291 grams (three-quarters of the full amount) came from a single bust that took place in 2018 at the port in Ceuta, one of Spain’s North African exclave cities. 

Since then, according to the data cited by El Pais, just nine grams were seized in 2019, 15 in 2020, 21 in 2021 and 40 in 2022. In the first nine months of this year, just three grams have been seized. 

The low figures are in stark contrast to the amounts of other drugs that have been detected by police in Spain. In 2022, for example, the authorities seized 58.3 tons of cocaine, 126 tons of marijuana and 319 tons of hash. 

A police report cited by El Pais points to alarmist articles in the media of fentanyl being mixed with other drugs such as cocaine. There is, according to the National Police, ‘no evidence of this’ so far. 

Police Warn Of 'killer' Drug That's Cheaper Than Cocaine On Spain's Costa Blanca
Policia Nacional image

The same report stated that the National Police had found fentanyl in nine of Spain’s 50 provinces: Leon, Huelva, Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza, Tenerife, Asturias, A Coruña and Malaga. 

The National Police added in their report that there was still widespread concern for the safety of officers in the face of the narcotic, given the dangers of exposure by means such as inhalation, the skin, accidental ingestion or an injection. 

As such, the National Police are developing a protocol to reduce these risks to officers, should the drug start to be widely distributed across Spain. 

Fentanyl is an opioid that is between 50 and 100 times as potent as morphine, and is mostly used to manage pain for cancer patients or patients recovering from surgeries. Very small quantities of the drug can cause an overdose. 

The drug is currently fueling an epidemic of fatal overdoses in the United States, and has been responsible for most of these deaths in the country since 2018.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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