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Fentanyl Hotspot

December 7, 2023

By: Erendira Zazueta, Coalition Coordinator

Within the past 3 years we have seen how fentanyl use has increased in the state of Arizona. We went from not hearing anything about it, to having it be an epidemic issue nationwide. Fentanyl overdose awareness has become a hot topic in public health in the country. We hear talks about carrying naloxone/Narcan, signs of a possible overdose, other drugs being laced with fentanyl, fentanyl pills being labeled as “blues,” and many other topics. Arizona has been known as a hub for drug trafficking because of it bordering Mexico which is where most drugs come through from. Because of that, Arizona is a hotspot for fentanyl. With millions of pills coming through the border every year, it is fairly easy to obtain synthetic opioids including fentanyl.

Fentanyl is currently the deadliest drug with it being so potent that such a small amount can cause an overdose, and Arizona is a shipment hub for it. According to Cheri OZ the special agent in charge at the Phoenix DEA, they have seized drugs that were supposed to supply every state in the United States. In 2021, 12 million fentanyl pills and the culprit for that is the Sinaloa cartel which own drug routes in Arizona. While it may seem like large amounts of fentanyl are being seized, there are still amounts of it that slip through the police and investigators and end up in our own communities.

With fentanyl being around the neighborhoods it is important to be aware of the dangers of taking fentanyl. There has been a lot of awareness regarding blue fentanyl pills and how highly dangerous they are, and the public still wonders why people use them if they know the dangers of them but the reality is that most people who have a deadly overdose did not know they were taking fentanyl in the first place.

A large quantity of people who overdose on fentanyl thought they were taking oxycodone which is another opioid. At a party in Tucson Arizona there were 4 young adults who thought they were taking “Mexican oxy”, but it was fentanyl. While 3 of the party goers were saved by naloxone, one unfortunately passed away, his name was Aaron Francisco Chavez. His story is one of many in the country that have affected families. Fentanyl is being produced in Mexico and it’s being trafficked in our own neighborhoods which makes it easy to obtain since it is easy access. It’s being sold as oxycodone and made to resemble an oxycodone pill. They are usually blue in color with an M engraved on one side and a 30 engraved on the other side. It’s easy to say no to a blue pill but the DEA have been capturing smugglers with rainbow colored pills. Pills can be all kinds of colors or even white which makes it easier to put different chemicals into the pressed pills. The quality is unregulated.

Another concern regarding the color is that they are appealing to children. Always be cautious of what children get their hands on, advise them to never pick up drugs from the street and to not take any drugs offered to them. It may seem scary to know we live in a fentanyl hotspot but there are ways to remain safe. The most obvious is to not use fentanyl ever. It’s also important to never use any opioid you do not have a prescription for, especially if someone offers it to you because it could possibly not even be the opioid they say, or it can be laced with fentanyl.

If you ever see any suspicious activity in your neighborhood, be sure to report it. Since we are a hot spot that means that fentanyl is being trafficked in our city, in our neighborhoods, near our homes. If there is a lot of foot traffic at a house, meaning that many strangers go in and out of a house daily, be observant and call the police if you notice something that’s out of the ordinary. Although we can’t stop fentanyl from coming through the border, we can help it not be trafficked in our own neighborhood by reporting any suspicious activity. Be sure to continue raising awareness by talking about the dangers of street opioids with friends and family.

Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s blog post. Be sure to follow us on social media and check back in with us next week for our new blog!


1. 12 News (2022). We can’t tell how much is manufactured: How much fentanyl is not getting seized in Arizona. Accesses on December 05, 2023.

2. NBC News (2019). Fentanyl deaths from ‘Mexican Oxy’ pills hit Arizona hard. Accessed on December 5, 2023.

3. Sharp. (2022). Limiting teen’s exposure to drugs online. Accessed on December 5, 2023.

Image sources

1. Fox 10 Phoenix. (2022). More than 8 million fentanyl pills seized in Arizona during nationwide operation. Accessed on December 5, 2023.

2. WHIO TV 7. (2022). DEA warns of ‘rainbow fentanyl’ that looks like candy; How you can protect your children. Accessed on December 5, 2023.

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