LUBBOCK, Texas — Across from a sprawling cotton field, among mobile homes in varying states of decay, one stood out: a double-wide with a new, expansive metal garage and the only paved driveway on the dead-end street.

It was here that an unemployed former computer repairman with a bad back ran what a drug informant called the biggest fentanyl ring in Lubbock. All Sidney Lanier needed was a computer and an elementary knowledge of chemistry to order shipments of the potent synthetic opioid from China and turn it into a highly profitable — and dangerous — street drug.

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  • “The Amazon of drug trafficking”??

    “Amazon”? Really?

    This kind of hyperbole only undermines the credibility of law enforcement and good journalism.

  • This sounds like a New England Compounding Center type drug. NECC killed many patients with its drugs and complete lack of regard for patient safety

  • so according to last paragraph , writer suggests arrests, will continue stem the tide of drug overdoses.. My city , philly, 36 od’s & 12 deaths in five days…On Nov 3. Law enforcement held news conference to gloat about arrest of a kingpin….Streets are safer..Isn’t it now FACT, the 26 billion dollar annual war on drug budget is a huge failure…And good percentage of those resources would be better used following Drug Policy of Portugal. The only conclusion is drugs are just to big a business. from courts, jails, policing, Pharamecutical CO’s all traded on Wall st…Drug companies make cigarette industry look like pikers. Disgraceful….

  • Fentanyl is awful as a rec drug, for sure, but heck… is what we’re doing now any better than making all this stuff legal and controlling the distribution? Would we have more addicts? Maybe — but we’d have far fewer deaths, or maybe none at all, if they all knew what they were getting.

  • What it the stuff he sold was not on the list of controlled substances was it really tested?
    “five different forms of fentanyl on the street — including some that are not on the list of controlled substances banned in the United States”.

  • The article missed the element that carfentanyl is about 100 times more potent. 5 mg (?) or so can be lethal. the CBC in Canada has been running a lot of stories on this issue.

    • Five mg would absolutely be lethal to a human being, because it’s a drug that’s measured and dosed in micrograms–µg. A thousand times smaller than a milligram–mg.

      According to the Wikipedia, there’s an annual manufacturing quota of 19 grams–so that should give you an idea of how potent it is, at 10,000 stronger than morphine. Which makes it 1,000 stronger than fentanyl, which is only about 100 times stronger than morphine.

      Carfentanil is used as general anesthetics agents for very large animals–think elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, etc.

      It was also used by rescuers during the Russian theatre attack (trying to tranquilize the bad guys) in aerosolized form, along with remifentanil. Even in the aerosolized forms, those two drugs killed a lot of people due to respiratory depression–had emergency medical teams been able help every single person there breathe, there wouldn’t have been any deaths.

      Because you don’t actually die from the drug as it’s not an issue of toxicity, it’s an issue of respiratory depression. Same with every overdose death due to opiates–it’s not a reaction to the drug, you just simply “forget” to breathe. :\

  • Nice investigative journalism, but feels a bit like it fits the Stat opioid narrative I read again and again.
    I recall a story on NPR several years ago detaining how going onto Fed disability can become a dead end trap where even if you get to a point where you recover and want off, there are strong financial disincentives to that. I wonder if that was part of the issue here too.
    Also have to wonder how a kid with a stay at home mom and a dad who trades commodities ends up dropping out of high school. Feels like there’s more here that the old “injured, gets opioids, becomes addicted and life spirals out of control” cliché.
    Regardless, this is a car-wreck, can’t look away, sad sad story.

  • Nice article, this is an ugly problem. One comment, methanol is not the primary ingredient in (automotive) antifreeze. That would be either ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. Methanol is used as an antifreeze in products such as windshield washer fluid and gasoline additives.

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