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US Attorney Mark Totten battles drug pipeline fueled by Mexican Cartels, causing record high overdose deaths

Drug overdose deaths have hit another record high in the United States with more than 110,000 people dead in one year.

The US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Mark Totten, says that Fentanyl is a major factor in the continuing rise in deaths across the county, and it’s making its way to Michigan more than people realize,

“The drug landscape right now is often changing, and it is especially concerning. The most striking characteristic is the sheer number of people who are dying. It’s largely being driven by one drug, and that is fentanyl, which is highly, highly lethal. it’s showing up in ways where people don’t necessarily realize what they’re taking. It’s showing up in fake pills.”


More and more, his office is seeing other drugs that are laced with Fentanyl, and the person taking that drug might not know what they are ingesting.

“ Somebody, maybe a teenager, may receive a pill from a friend at a party that is told it’s a Xanax. That’s a name they recognize.”

But it’s not Xanax, he says, It’s a counterfeit prescription pill laced with fentanyl. A drug so deadly, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, that it takes just two milligrams to be lethal, and 40% of pills have a potentially fatal dose.

Totten said it can kill them in less than an hour, something he aims to stop as much as he can,


“Let me mention one particular case that we resolve this year. We brought a case to the United States v. Smith, where there were some drug dealers from Detroit that had established a supply line up through the Mackinac Bridge to feed the Upper Peninsula.”

The final of 10 defendants to plead guilty was sentenced to 51 months in prison for her involvement in an operation that the Judge said brought a significant amount of drugs, to an area that was already so heavily impacted by drug abuse.

“We dismantled that whole pipeline. And that’s that’s exactly the kind of work that we want to do. We are focused on trying to break apart those pipelines. We’re not we’re not focused on users. We really want to try to stop the supply lines themselves.”

But to do that Totten has to look beyond Michigan to a Transnational operation that smuggles drugs across the Southern Border, into the United States, and up to Northern Michigan.


“The drugs that really dominate the landscape right now, Meth and fentanyl, are all being produced at scale by the cartels in Mexico, and they’re making their way up here.”

Totten says he works very closely with local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and drug enforcement teams to keep drugs off the street, and people alive

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