Interview with former DEA head Derek Maltz
By J.M. Phelps
On July 10, 2021, The Acadiana Advocate ran a story about the substantial rise of overdose deaths in Lafayette Parish. According to the coroner’s office, opioid and fentanyl-related deaths have almost doubled when compared to the number of deaths reported in the first half of 2020. And as addictions continue to rise, so does the number of the deaths.
Covenant Spotlight spoke to Derek Maltz, a former head of the Special Operations Division (SOD) of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He admits the problem in Lafayette is a small representation of a much larger, nationwide problem.
Opioid and fentanyl-related deaths are “exploding” in America, Maltz warns. With fentanyl in particular, he points out that precursor chemicals for the drug are brought into Mexico from China. “Mexican cartels are starting to make their own fentanyl in very sophisticated production labs, [and] millions of pills are being trafficked across a border that’s out of control with illegal crossings.”
Maltz explains that fentanyl is being mixed with counterfeit pills. According to the former DEA executive, “DEA lab analysis has indicated that many of the counterfeit pills – up to 26% – actually contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.” Drugs like oxycodone, Xanax, and Adderall are being laced with fentanyl.
In one eye-opening example, he says DEA Phoenix estimated up to six million counterfeit oxycodone pills entered the southwestern city in 2020. “With 6 million pills in circulation, that means 1.5 million people [25%] could be killed.”
The goal of the Mexican cartels, like any business, is to maximize profits, he notes. “While thousands are dying in the wake of the cash flow, cartels continue moving forward with their global operations [with the priority of] getting people addicted so it generates more customers.” The rise in drug-related deaths is nothing more than collateral damage to cartels and traffickers.
“While they are not deliberately trying to kill their customers, [these criminals] are also not trained, FDA-certified chemists who know how to mix fentanyl—[and] it only takes the equivalent of four grains of salt or 2 mg to kill an American,” he points out.
Maltz follows a public awareness group known as Lost Voices of Fentanyl on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/506404506985344/). Sadly, he has become intimately aware of the devastation drug-related deaths have presented to hundreds of families across the country.
“Families are devastated, [and] they’re also very upset with the lack of support by government agencies, national organizations, and politicians,” Maltz admits.
The rise in the number of overdose deaths doesn’t affect any one class or group in America, he explains. “It’s not something that only impacts Republicans or Democrats, [but] it’s impacting all walks of life,” he says. “[Families that are grieved and frustrated] don’t understand why no one is talking about the issue.”
Maltz contends: “The problem is that no one wants to open up the dialogue about the number of deaths – because if they did, they’d also have to report about the border issue.” He recognizes a correlation between rising death rates and the number of migrants crossing the border.
The former DEA exec understands that there is a need for education and treatment, but he often points out, “it’s too late to educate and treat a young American who’s in the morgue.” He admits there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. “[Criminals] are making counterfeit prescription pills, mixing fentanyl with other drugs, and flooding the streets of America every single day.”
And Lafayette is not shielded from the deadly onslaught. It must be stopped.