You will not find fentanyl in nature because it is a man-made chemical. Reporting by Tucson.com shows the complicated journey from where the initial ingredients are first made before eventually being sold as counterfeit pills or mixed into other illicit drugs on the streets of America. The article states that two federal investigations found that the ingredients needed to make fentanyl, called precursor chemicals, are frequently shipped from China into the U.S. before being taken to Mexico to be turned into fentanyl.
The article noted the seizure of nearly 130 pounds of 4-anilino-N-phenethyl-4-piperidine (4-ANPP), a precursor chemical needed to make fentanyl. Law enforcement estimated that once converted into fentanyl, the seized ingredients would have had a street value of $600 million. Erica Curry, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokeswoman in Phoenix said that sending the precursor chemicals to the U.S. first is common. “The Mexican cartels have started to use that tactic to really just add one more layer to protect them from law enforcement,” Curry said. “If it’s going to a re-mailer, we will never find out who it is going to in Mexico.”
The end result of all those precursor ingredients, as reported by ABC 15 Arizona, is that the DEA seized 121,000 counterfeit fentanyl pills off the streets of Arizona in 2017 alone. Curry said, “People think they’re taking a legitimate pill and they’re taking Fentanyl, which is so strong, it’s going to kill you. We’ve heard of some Percocet, we’ve seen some Xanax and Hydrocodone pills as well.” “The drugs that we’ve seized here have an impact on the rest of the United States,” said Curry. “Because people are dying in Ohio. They’re dying in New Hampshire. They’re dying all over the east coast from these blue Fentanyl pills.”
Showing the direct impact to residents of Arizona, the Phoenix Patch reported that the Tempe Police Department issued a warning about counterfeit fentanyl pills being sold on the street. The pills are blue and have the markings “M” and “30” imprinted into them, though the markings may change. A copy of the warning can be seen here. You can learn more about counterfeit drug incidents in Arizona here.