(National Sentinel) Crisis: You’ve heard, no doubt, that America is currently embroiled in an opioid epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of our citizens every year.

The most dangerous of these is fentanyl, which is being smuggled into the country in mass quantities and is even being smuggled into the U.S. from China.

But the thing is, this stuff is so deadly that even a small amount of it could literally kill tens of millions of Americans, making it one of the most potent weapons of mass destruction on the planet.

Bloomberg Quint reported it would only take 118 pounds of fentanyl to kill 25 million Americans, and recently, a Nebraska state trooper found just that amount after he stopped a truck marked “U.S. Mail” swerving on Interstate 80:

Rolling up the trailer door revealed an empty hold. But just below a refrigeration unit, behind a plastic panel secured with mismatched bolts, Mortensen found 42 brick-shaped packages, weighing 54 kilograms, full of fentanyl. The drug is so potent that even a small amount — the equivalent of a few grains of salt — can be lethal.

Fentanyl has emerged as the most dangerous of a group of drugs blamed for creating a U.S. public health crisis. American deaths linked to fentanyl grew more than 50 percent to 29,406 last year, from 19,413 in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Relatively easy to manufacture, the drug is turning up more on the streets as dealers strive to meet still-enormous demand for opioids in the U.S.

“There’s never been a drug like fentanyl before,” Josh Bloom, senior director of chemical and pharmaceutical research at the American Council on Science and Health, told the news site. “For street drugs, this absolutely destroys anything else in terms of lethality and danger.”

The CDC notes that the drug is some 50 times more potent than heroin, and is often mixed with the latter drug. And the agency says it is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Officially, the agency noted in a report Wednesday, fentanyl is the most potent (meaning deadly) drug in the U.S. today.

China isn’t the only smuggler of fentanyl. As Stratfor noted last year, “…[C]ocaine was merely the first of several drugs that were game changers for Mexican organized crime groups. The latest of them, fentanyl (and related synthetic opioids), is the most profitable yet, and is rapidly becoming the deadliest drug for users north of the border.”

Regarding the drug’s WMD status, Bloomberg Quint noted further:

The fatal potential of even glancing contact with fentanyl is a major reason why national security experts are becoming alarmed at the prospect of it being used to sow terror. The drug is “a significant threat to national security,” Michael Morell, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama, wrote last year. “It is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Airborne release of the drug would not likely be very effective as it would become too diluted, experts noted. Releasing it in confined spaces would work much better.

Moreover, if granulated and spread over commonly used items, it would not take long before victims rubbed their eyes or put their fingers in their mouths, giving them lethal doses. And once the drug has been absorbed or ingested, it is nearly impossible for emergency crews to reverse its deadly effects.

That said, a reliable — and fast — treatment may be forthcoming. The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, known as BARDA, which is tasked with developing medical countermeasures, inked a potential $4.6 million contract with Opiant Pharmaceuticals Inc. to produce a reliable single-dose fentanyl antidote, Bloomberg Quint reported.

“Fentanyl-based drugs have been used in conflicts in other countries, so we know it’s possible, and we need to be ready to save lives and protect Americans from potential health security threats,”  BARDA Director Rick Bright said, adding that repeat doses of naloxone, as the counter-narcotic drug Narcan is known generically, would be very hard to administer in a terror attack.

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