CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Border Patrol and Customs officers seized almost 300 pounds of illegal designer drugs in the month of March, with shipments of fentanyl, flakka, bath salts and date rape drugs among those seized.
The shipments came from China and were destined for 17 different locations in the U.S. and Canada, all passing through Cincinnati, according to a release from the Chicago field office's public affairs liaison. Officers stationed at "a local Cincinnati express consignment facility" recovered the drugs, which were labeled as packages of hardware materials.
"This recent enforcement effort was designed to stem the flow of synthetic narcotics to popular Spring Break destinations," Acting Port Director Steven Thompson said in a statement.
Cincinnati officers seized more than 36 pounds of furanyl fentanyl, which is "designed by illicit drug manufacturers as an attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement." Fentanyl use has surged in the Tri-State in recent years; the synthetic opioid is often added to heroin because it's easier to produce. However, it greatly increases the chance of overdosing.
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In Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, fentanyl overdose deaths more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. In Aug. 2016, Hamilton County emergency rooms handled at least 175 overdoses over a five-day span, due to a dangerous batch of heroin-fentanyl.
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Flakka, another deadly synthetic drug, was responsible for an incident where a naked man ran down I-71 during rush hour, despite being Tased multiple times by police. The drug was also behind a famed "zombie attack" in Miami only weeks prior, where a man attacked a woman and ate her flesh.
GBL, a precursor to GHB, the "date rape drug," was also found in the seizure. GBL, bath salts and fentanyl are all Schedule I drugs, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.