Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic (Hardcover)
A staggering feat of investigative reporting, Fentanyl, Inc. explores the illicit world of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) like K2, Spice, Flakka, and fentanyl. For the most part these drugs originated in legitimate laboratory work, but they are easily commandeered by anyone with a penchant for chemistry. Sourcing the basic components isn’t an issue as they are readily available over the internet. And increasing criminalization isn’t addressing the problem. Westhoff explores the bold steps—from safe injection sites to access to opioid replacements—necessary to stem this tragic flood. -Holly
A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. "A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape," writes Ben Westhoff. "These are known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and they include replacements for known drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. They are synthetic, made in a laboratory, and are much more potent than traditional drugs"--and all-too-often tragically lethal.
Drugs like fentanyl, K2, and Spice--and those with arcane acronyms like 25i-NBOMe-- were all originally conceived in legitimate laboratories for proper scientific and medicinal purposes. Their formulas were then hijacked and manufactured by rogue chemists, largely in China, who change their molecular structures to stay ahead of the law, making the drugs' effects impossible to predict. Westhoff has infiltrated this shadowy world. He tracks down the little-known scientists who invented these drugs and inadvertently killed thousands, as well as a mysterious drug baron who turned the law upside down in his home country of New Zealand. Westhoff visits the shady factories in China from which these drugs emanate, providing startling and original reporting on how China's vast chemical industry operates, and how the Chinese government subsidizes it. Poignantly, he chronicles the lives of addicted users and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. Together they represent the shocking and riveting full anatomy of a calamity we are just beginning to understand. From its depths, as Westhoff relates, are emerging new strategies that may provide essential long-term solutions to the drug crisis that has affected so many.
About the Author
Ben Westhoff is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered stories ranging from Los Angeles gangsta rap to Native American tribal disputes to government corruption. He is the author of two previous books: Original Gangstas about the birth of West Coast rap, and Dirty South about the southern rappers who re-invented hip-hop. He has written at length about culture, drugs, and corruption in the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, Village Voice, Vice, Oxford American, and elsewhere.