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In Manchester and Nashua, Fentanyl Death Toll Keeps Rising

Nashua and Manchester continue chasing a grim record as opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise in the two cities. 

According to data released Thursday by ambulance company American Medical Response, there were 77 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua and Manchester during September 2022 bringing the combined total for this year to 701.

And they warn there is no end in sight.

“Preliminary data show Nashua has experienced 33 suspected opioid-related deaths through September. That is 3 more deaths than during all of 2021,” said Chris Stawasz, Northeast Regional Director of Government Affairs for AMR. “Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in one year since the opioid epidemic began in 2015. Manchester is also still on pace to have the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a one-year period since 2017.”

This year’s number of opioid-related overdose deaths is already close to last year’s totals. Manchester had more than 500 suspected overdoses in 2021, 30 percent more than the previous year, and Nashua had 250 suspected overdoses in 2021, which was 29 percent more than in 2020.

Stawasz said opioids like Fentanyl are not the only thing first responders are worried about. The growing prevalence of methamphetamines on New Hampshire streets is concerning, he said.

“Methamphetamine, which is not currently tracked and is not included in this report, continues to be seen mixed with opioids. Meth is a particularly dangerous drug for both users and first responders as it can cause extreme excited delirium and alarmingly unpredictable behavior in users,” Stawasz said.

Meth use has been linked to violent incidents in recent years, with several fatal police shootings involving people who were heavy meth users coming into conflict with police.

Both methamphetamine and fentanyl are coming over the Mexican border and making their way into New Hampshire, according to law enforcement. Mexican drug cartels are getting the necessary chemicals to make the deadly drugs from Chinese triads. The partnership extends to billions of dollars being laundered by the triads for the cartels, with the knowledge of China’s government.

The drugs continue to stream over the border, which has seen record numbers of people illegally crossing. The Border Patrol reports it apprehended 2 million people this year, the largest number of illegal crossings in history. That blows past last year’s figure of 1.7 million people coming over the border illegally, which was a record number at the time.

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan received testimony on the need to secure the border from national law enforcement officials during a hearing earlier this year. Jon DeLena, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division for the DEA, testified regarding the danger posed by the cartels.

“The model of the drug cartels right now is simple. Relentless expansion and addiction. They simply don’t care if Americans die. They only want to reach more Americans in unprecedented ways. This is a moment in time, our moment where we have to do everything we can to reverse this deadly trend,” DeLena said.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect the testimony offered by Mr. DeLena.

Report: Chinese Government Exploiting Southern Border to Feed Fentanyl Epidemic

An explosive report published in ProPublica links the official policy of China’s government to the fentanyl epidemic killing Americans, including a record number of Granite Staters. And Granite State GOP opponents of President Joe Biden’s border policy are pointing to it as more proof it is time to make a change in Washington.

ProPublica released a story last weekend by reporters Sebastian Rotella and Kirsten Berg about a Chinese American gangster named Xizhi Li who came to dominate the money laundering market for Mexican drug cartels. The ruthless cartels are making billions sending fentanyl and other drugs to users in the United States and beyond through the porous Southern border.

“At no time in the history of organized crime is there an example where a revenue stream has been taken over like this, and without a shot being fired,” retired DEA agent Thomas Cindric, a veteran of the elite Special Operations Division, told ProPublica. “This has enriched the Mexican cartels beyond their wildest dreams.”

Since 2006, China has exported more than $3.8 trillion through money laundering schemes according to the report. China now leads the world as the primary financial underwriter for the cartels.

According to ProPublica, the Chinese government certainly knows that its citizens around the globe are involved in money laundering for the cartels and it approves.

With a major world power now suspected of using America’s unsecured southern border to attack the United States, Republicans like retired Gen. Don Bolduc are laying the blame at the feed of Biden and his Democratic allies, including his opponent Sen. Maggie Hassan.

“It’s no secret the drug crisis is plaguing New Hampshire communities and families, exacerbated by the open-border policies supported by Sen. Hassan,” Bolduc’s spokesperson Kate Constantini told NHJournal. “Drugs are pouring in and killing Granite Staters while Sen. Hassan is hiding in her safe and cushy D.C. office. Parents across the country now have to worry about telling their own children they can’t eat Halloween candy because Democrats like Sen. Hassan continue to stay soft on crime and drugs.

“We’ll gladly compare our vision for a secure border and strong communities over Sen. Hassan’s pathetic record any day.”

The issue is more problematic for Hassan because she sits on the powerful Homeland Security Committee which has direct oversight of border security policy.

Former senior FBI official Frank Montoya, Jr. told ProPublica China supports the money laundering business which props up the cartels as part of a policy to further weaken the United States.

“We suspected a Chinese ideological and strategic motivation behind the drug and money activity,” Montoya told ProPublica.

He offered this rationale to ProPublica for the Communist government’s policy.

“To fan the flames of hate and division. The Chinese have seen the advantages of the drug trade. If fentanyl helps them and hurts this country, why not?”

The Hassan campaign did not respond to a request for comment. But in the first U.S. Senate debate of the general election Tuesday, Hassan insisted she supports “a secure, orderly and humane border,” and that she supports additional “physical barriers,” aka “a wall.”

But as a senator, Hassan repeatedly voted against funding the border wall former President Donald Trump tried to build while he was in office. And she opposes deporting illegal immigrants who successfully make their way into the nation, also known as “interior enforcement.” 

Karoline Leavitt, in an apparent neck-and-neck race with incumbent Democrat Rep. Chris Pappas, also blames her opponent for the border problem.

“With each passing day, Chinese fentanyl continues to be smuggled across our wide-open southern border. Our families and communities are being poisoned by this dangerous drug, and we cannot afford another weak leader in D.C. who will act as if this problem isn’t occurring,” Leavitt said. “We need a representative who will work with law enforcement to secure our communities and stop this dangerous drug from pouring into our state.”

Pappas also did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Pappas and Hassan heard testimony earlier this year from national security officials who testified that Chinese triads are supplying Mexican cartels with the chemicals needed to make fentanyl. Those drugs are making their way into New Hampshire with deadly consequences.

New Hampshire’s two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, are on target for record opioid overdose deaths this year, thanks to the fentanyl flooding the streets. According to American Medical Response, a large ambulance company that services New Hampshire, opioid deaths continue to rise.

Data for August, the most recent set available, show Nashua has seen 32 suspected opioid-related deaths, topping last year’s 30 opioid deaths.

“Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in one year since the opioid epidemic began in 2015,” AMR states in its monthly report.

Manchester is on pace to have the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a year since 2017, with more than 71 opioid deaths projected for the year. As of the end of August, the Queen City has 45 suspected opioid overdose deaths on record.

As Pols Debate Border Security, NH Opioid Deaths Climb

The rate of overdose deaths from the opioid epidemic continues to climb in Manchester and Nashua, with both cities approaching record deaths this year. And Republicans are pointing a finger at President Joe Biden’s border crisis.

According to Chris Stawasz with American Medical Response, first responders were called to 86 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua and Manchester during July 2022, bringing this year’s total to 539. That is 99 more incidents than the same period last year, a 23 percent increase.

Nashua is on track to have the highest number of opioid deaths in a year since the start of the pandemic. Manchester is looking to break the record it set in 2017.

“Preliminary data shows Nashua has experienced 29 suspected opioid-related deaths through July. There were 30 suspected opioid-related deaths in Nashua during all of 2021. Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in one year since the opioid epidemic began in 2015. Manchester is still on pace to have the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a one-year period since 2017,” Stawasz said.

There were 10 likely opioid-related deaths in July, eight in Manchester, and two in Nashua. Their causes are still pending verification from the Office of the New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner. 

Republicans note the surge in unlawful border crossings since Biden took office and the flood of fentanyl across the southern border.

So far this year, United States Customs and Border Patrol has seized about 133,000 pounds of methamphetamine at the border, compared to more than 8,000 pounds of fentanyl, and 50,000 pounds of cocaine.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Samantha Bullock says voters should hold elected Democrats like Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas to account.

“Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster have buried their heads in the sand to avoid addressing Democrats’ southern border crisis that’s allowing deadly drugs to destroy New Hampshire communities.”

A spokesperson for the House Republican Conference reiterated that point to the Washington Examiner.

“Joe Biden’s open-border policies have plunged our southern border into absolute chaos. It is a fact that Biden’s fentanyl crisis is directly a result of his border crisis, as the illegal drugs pour in over the wide open southern border,” the spokesperson said.

In New Hampshire’s two largest cities, Stawasz says first responders are dealing with people overdosing after they use drugs that they did not believe were opioids.

“AMR medics continue to see and listen to reports from suspected opioid OD patients who believed they were not specifically using opioids and were surprised that they overdosed on an opioid,” Stawasz said.

Stawasz told Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen during a July roundtable that dealers are putting potentially deadly doses of fentanyl into other drugs and selling them to unsuspecting users.

“I personally have experienced several occasions on a call when someone we’ve woken up from an opioid overdose will insist, ‘I was not using an opioid, I’m not an opioid user. I smoke marijuana. But I bought it from a different person.’ I think that’s contributing to an increased number of deaths,” Stawasz said.

July also saw an increase in the number of patients treated who reported or were suspected of consuming methamphetamine. Methamphetamine use numbers are not currently tracked and are not included in this report. Meth is a particularly dangerous drug for both users and first responders as it can cause extremely excited delirium and alarmingly unpredictable behavior in users.

Methamphetamine is seen by federal law enforcement as a growing problem in New Hampshire. It is coming into the United States in the same way as fentanyl, largely from Mexican cartels who smuggle the drugs over the border.