DEA agents in Missouri-area seize record number of fentanyl

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 3:08 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 5:17 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release/KY3) - The Drug Enforcement Administration region including Missouri, Kansas and part of Illinois have seized a record 108 kilograms of fentanyl already this fiscal year, topping the 104 kilograms seized in 2019.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cited fentanyl as a primary factor behind the nearly 30 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2020. Synthetic opioid deaths, mainly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, rose almost 55 percent.

[It’s] an alarming increase in the amount of that were seizing, ”Springfield DEA agent Brian Townsend says.

“We’re seeing tremendous amounts of fentanyl across the country, peddled by drug trafficking organizations that don’t care about human life,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Zimmerman, head of DEA St. Louis Division. “They’re putting fentanyl into pills that look like the real thing, but they’re counterfeit. DEA’s investigators are working hard to stop this dangerous drug from reaching into our neighborhoods, but we want people to be aware that these pills could be deadly.”

DEA St. Louis Division seizures for the last four years:

2018 – 34 kilograms

2019 – 104 kilograms

2020 – 82 kilograms

2021 (first three quarters) – 108 kilograms

DEA St. Louis Division was selected in March this year to be part of DEA’s Project Wave Breaker, which directs interdiction, enforcement, and outreach efforts to disrupt the flow of fentanyl in and around the United States. The initiative employs analytical intelligence assets to target the activities of transnational criminal organizations, which are the primary suppliers and distributors of illicit fentanyl and fentanyl substances throughout the United States.

In Springfield, first responders say the increase makes sense with the number of overdose calls they’ve been receiving.

“Last year we had just over 400 incidents we are on pace for more than that this year,” Springfield Fire Chief David Pennington says.

He says these cases don’t discriminate either. Even teens are getting their hands on counterfeit pills.

Pam Greenberg from Addiction is Real lost her son to an overdose. She says teens could be hiding pills right in front of you and it’s important to look.

“I wish I had gone through [my son’s] bedroom,” Greenberg explains. “It was mine to go through. Everything in that house and in his car were mine to search.”

“When I talked to parents, I always end it with the three most dangerous words that you can say is ‘not my child,’ she adds. “That’s what I did.”

Facts about fentanyl:

  • A kilogram of fentanyl can potentially make 500,000 counterfeit pills.
  • Of counterfeit pills tested in DEA laboratories, one in four pills made with fentanyl contained a potentially lethal dose.
  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent that morphine.
  • The seizure of fentanyl-laced pills along the Southwest border increased more than 89 percent from January 2019 to December 2020.

Project Wave Breaker aims to reduce the amount of fentanyl coming across the Southwest border, reduce crime and violence associated with drug trafficking, and ultimately save lives by reducing the demand for illicit fentanyl.

For resources and additional information on fentanyl and other illicit drugs, visit And for resources on ways that teens are hiding drugs or what to look for go to

To report a correction or typo, please email

Copyright 2021 KY3. All rights reserved.