CHICAGO (WLS) -- The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is out with an astounding statistic: federal drug agents have seized enough doses of fentanyl this year to kill every single American.
The United States population right now is about 332 million. In 2022, U.S. fentanyl seizures by federal drug agents have been 379 million doses.
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That is more than enough to kill every American, according to Drug Enforcement Administration officials who are pointing to that astonishing stat as they try to put a stop to an overdose problem in this country that the I-Team has been focusing on for years.
Fentanyl is a bonafide and effective painkiller when used by doctors. But when it's mixed into street drugs and sold by the cartels, it's just simply a killer.
"Fentanyl is killing Americans at record rates. Many of them didn't realize they were taking the deadliest drug our country has ever seen," said DEA Administrator, Anne Milgram.
Fatal overdose numbers so bad in Chicago that DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert Bell has talked with the I-Team numerous times this year alone about the deadly threat.
"The numbers are astounding," said Bell.
Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin; one dose the size of a pencil point can kill you.
On Tuesday, the DEA announced the seizure total of more than 379 million deadly doses of Fentanyl coast-to-coast in 2022.
Cocaine, heroin and other illicit street drugs can contain killer amounts of fentanyl, which are frequently unknown to buyers.
DEA officials have new initiatives aimed at rolling back the fatal tide, most often engineered by a single and notorious Mexican cartel.
"With fentanyl for us our number one priority is the Sinaloa Cartel and you know, that's our focus, still going strong," said Bell.
The Sinaloa Cartel was run by the billionaire drug lord known around the world as "El Chapo." He's now serving a life sentence at the Supermax prison in Colorado.
Federal law enforcement officials said several of his sons have taken the reigns of the organization; and continue with the stranglehold Sinaloa has on Midwestern fentanyl markets.
With thousands of fentanyl overdose deaths in Illinois alone, the DEA director stressed that with fentanyl from large metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is safe.