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Drug busts in Pa. increase nearly 30%

Hard drugs on dark table. Drug syringe and cooked heroin.
Natalia Shabasheva/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Hard drugs on dark table. Drug syringe and cooked heroin.

Pennsylvania State Police announced a near 30% increase in drug seizures in the last quarter, with a street value totaling just over $21 million.

“Trying to pinpoint the exact reason for that (increase) is really hard,” said Lt. Adam Reed, the director of communications for the Pennsylvania State Police.

Lt. Reed says the numbers often fluctuate, but the statistics are telling. PSP release a seizure report every quarter.

Total Illicit Drugs Seized in 2023

Q 1$16 million
Q 2$14 million
Q 3$21 million

According to the latest seizure report, cocaine was the biggest culprit, accounting for $7 million of the illegal drugs confiscated this quarter.

Cocaine Seized in 2023

Q 1230 pounds
Q 2140 pounds
Q 3319 pounds

Marijuana was also prevalent, with over $6 million worth of illegally possessed pot seized in several forms.

Lt. Reed pointed out that other drugs that may not be as pricey still make a large impact, like fentanyl. Manufacturers often use it as a cutting agent, meaning it is mixed in with other drugs. State police seized about 141 pounds of the synthetic opioid this particular quarter, which includes July, August, and September.

Fentanyl Seized in 2023

Q 125 pounds
Q 258 pounds
Q 3141 pounds

“That’s a lot of a very dangerous drug. Fentanyl can be so dangerous even in small doses,” he said. “And really, fentanyl is the reason we see a lot of our overdoses here in Pennsylvania.”

Lt. Reed said users often illegally buy pain killers, for example, not knowing that they are laced with the deadly synthetic.

“It could be malicious manufacturing, it could be it's readily available as a cutting agent,” he said, adding that dealers will add fentanyl to drugs to dilute their financial value and increase potency.

2022 Drug Seizure Totals

Total Illicit Drugs Seized$65 million
Fentanyl Seized348 pounds
Cocaine Seized547 pounds

Lt. Reed says xylazine, also referred to as ‘tranq,’ is an increasing threat. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), xylazine is approved as a sedative and pain reliever for animals only, and is sometimes mixed with fentanyl and other drugs. Because it is not an opioid, the overdose-reversing drug naloxone doesn’t work with xylazine.

Lt. Reed notes that law enforcement officers will continue to get as many illicit drugs off the street as possible.

“We have troopers out on our interstates, notably the turnpike, I-95, I-81, across Pennsylvania, looking for vehicles that may be transporting drugs like this.”