ColombiaOne.comColombia newsFirst Two Cases of Fentanyl Poisoning in Medellin

First Two Cases of Fentanyl Poisoning in Medellin


Fentanyl Medellin
Authorities confirmed the two cases of fentanyl poisoning in Medellín – Credit: Government of British Columbia / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Medellin is on high alert due to the first two confirmed cases of fentanyl intoxication. Fentanyl is a potent opioid and one of the most powerful drugs in existence. Deadly and addictive, its consumption had previously been detected in countries like Mexico, Canada, and the United States. These cases in Medellin are the first officially confirmed cases in Colombia.

Fentanyl in Colombia

In July, its distribution was detected when the police seized nearly 300 vials, each containing 10 milliliters, in the Valle de Aburra region. It was discovered during a routine check of a courier company, in a shipment from Barranquilla. The street value of the seizure was 70 million Colombian pesos. This drug is easily produced and used by traffickers as an adulterant for cocaine and other drugs to lower production costs and increase profits. This can lead to unintended intoxications, significantly raising the risk of overdose.

Medellin cases

This is precisely what happened in at least one of the two cases detected in the capital of Antioquia. The two affected individuals were taken to the Soma Clinic in Medellín for treatment. One of them arrived with symptoms of tusi contaminated with fentanyl. Tusi, also known as “pink cocaine,” is a synthetic drug that bears little resemblance to traditional cocaine. In this case, the fentanyl intoxication was accidental, as the person was unaware of ingesting the substance.

In the other detected case, it’s known that the individual actively sought out the substance, which eventually landed them in the hospital.

Authorities have been investigating for months to identify who is responsible for introducing this drug into the Colombian market. “A group of prosecutors, accompanied by the police, are already conducting investigative work to determine which structures are involved and who is bringing this type of medication to the city,” stated Yiri Milena Amado, regional director of the Medellín Prosecutor’s Office.

As reported by the police, fentanyl in the country is contaminating other drugs like heroin, tusi, or other synthetic pills, leading to increased addiction.

Fentanyl Medellin
Fentanyl has effects 100 times greater than morphine – Credit: Public Domain

What is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?

The Medical Committee of Antioquia informed that people are unfamiliar with consuming fentanyl and unaware of proper dosages, which can have serious health consequences for them.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, much more potent than morphine. It’s used for pain management as a medical drug. Its illicit production turns it into a dangerous street drug due to its high addictive effects. It can be consumed as a powder or liquid, even absorbed through the skin via patches.

Even in small doses, fentanyl can be lethal. It causes severe withdrawal symptoms when discontinued, including panic attacks, insomnia, chills, nausea, or vomiting.

President Petro’s warning of its danger

Colombian President Gustavo Petro had previously warned about the danger of fentanyl and its immediate impact in Colombia, as well as in other countries. “Synthetic drugs are gaining the market. In the case of the US, fentanyl, which is virtually lethal, is perhaps the worst drug ever encountered. It’s reaching pandemic levels, killing over 100,000 people per year,” explained the Colombian leader in an interview with El País.

Petro had previously pointed out that fentanyl was the biggest challenge for those fighting drug consumption. He compared it to the deaths caused by cocaine in a year, around 3,000 in the US.

“The war on drugs, targeting marijuana and cocaine, has led to something terribly worse. This is why I talk about the failure of drug war policies. It has led us to almost suicide, which is fentanyl,” concluded the Colombian President in statements that sparked controversy in the country.

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