Letter: Asheville’s fentanyl crisis

Graphic by Lori Deaton

North Carolina made the top of the list on fentanyl deaths last year. According to a February report, the 10 states with the highest fentanyl deaths last year included North Carolina.

Where is fentanyl coming from? Through our southern border.

How much is coming into our nation? It was fact checked by www.wral.com that the Border Patrol seized enough fentanyl to kill every American man, woman and child seven times over. Imagine what amount got through?

Fentanyl is also called “gray death.” Here are articles that claim it can be absorbed through the skin: [avl.mx/bso] and [avl.mx/bsp].

Here are just a few local fentanyl incidents:
1. January 2021. Blueridgenow.com reported police warning that five deaths in 48 hours were suspected to be overdoses of fentanyl.
2. Feb. 7. Charlotte Observer: Six survive overdose at Omni Grove Park Inn.
3. March 4-8: AshevilleRecoveryCenter.com reported police seized 19 kg of fentanyl.
4. March 31. www.wcnc.com: 2.76 pounds of fentanyl; 625,000 lethal doses; called the largest single seizure of fentanyl in Buncombe County history. Also reported by Asheville Citizen Times.
5. April 29. WLOS: 1.1 pounds.

In 2020, WLOS reported $770,000 that was designated for the Asheville police sector is instead going toward other departments or agencies.

With defunding the Asheville police last year, 84 officers were reported by the New York Post to have left the force.

This article explains other reasons for police force exodus from Asheville and other locations: [avl.mx/bsi].

Here is what the Asheville community is up against while continuing to defund their police sector. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in just eight months last year there were over 72 overdose deaths, so that’s roughly nine deaths per month. That’s more than Asheville’s unsolved and solved murder cases, which also are record-breaking.

WLOS in January 2021 reported: “Study ranks Asheville in top 10% of most violent cities in America.”

Asheville, in this article by Samuel Stebbins of 24/7 Wall St., is among America’s most dangerous cities: [avl.mx/bsk].

AreaVibes reported Asheville’s livability score of 63 (out of 100) with these rankings: amenities, A+; cost of living, D; crime, F; employment, D+; housing, C; schools, C; user ratings, F; total crime, 179% above national average; property crime, 193% above national average. Date and last updated: This data reflects the 2020 calendar year and was released from the FBI in September 2021; this is the most current data available.

Given these facts, do you feel Asheville city leaders should reconsider defunding the police?

— Kristen Burns-Warren


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7 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville’s fentanyl crisis

  1. WNC

    It’s hard to be open border and claim to care about homelessness or mental illnesses.
    There are 750,000 thousand deaths directly and indirectly that were related to illegal and illicit drug use in 2020.
    Most of the folks roaming around asheville with a crazed and in many cases permanent look on their face didn’t start out that way.

  2. kw

    Why have we not heard more about the felonious Floridians who overdosed at Grove Park in February? If they had been local Black residents rather than tourists, would there have been arrests?

    • Enlightened Enigma

      yes, apparently, these Ft. Lauderdale firefighters are a protected class…also wondering what happened to them…story brushed away…

      but why does fentanyl kill some people but not others? is it coming from China too ?

      • kw

        The story was likely brushed away simply because they were out-of-town felony drug-using firefighters and the first responders (paid by our tax dollars) were Asheville firefighters, who have endorsed Esther Manheimer for mayor. So. The mayor, the firefighters and the BCTDA…anyone want to make a statement to the world that Asheville is not the place to come use drugs and that tourists will be held accountable and punished just as if they were local tax-paying residents? Who will stand up for our community?

  3. SpareChange

    I’m not looking to “cherry pick” the writer’s arguments, or in any way attempt to deny that Asheville faces its share of problems. Especially where fentanyl is concerned, there is very good reason for not only Asheville, but the entire nation to be quite alarmed at the numbers of crimes and deaths involving this drug. However, some of the measures and indicators cited, and some of the points made by the letter writer do significantly exaggerate the more general crime problem in Asheville.

    Crime statistics are not standardized across local and state jurisdictions. What gets counted, how it is counted, and what gets reported, varies tremendously from state to state and city to city. Thus, one is left with an “apples and oranges” dilemma when trying to compare incidents of crime, or how those incidents of crime actually impact the lives of residents in a community. Just one obvious illustration of the problem can be seen by looking at marijuana arrests (most of which are for simple possession of small quantities, but which often do still lead to criminal charges). In a growing number of states, such possession is either legal, or is not counted in crime statistics. The inclusion or exclusion of those incidents alone can have a significant impact on crime data.

    Moreover, one has to consider how crime statistics are calculated. Typically crime rates are presented as a ratio of total number of crimes, as measured against the size of the resident population. This poses a huge statistical dilemma for a place like Asheville/Buncombe, where the population is approximately 267,000 people, but (as calculated by the Convention & Visitors Bureau, in fiscal year 2020-2021) there were almost 12 million visitors, and 4.2 million overnight guests. Therefore, crimes involving these many millions of visitors (whether as perpetrators or victims) get counted in the statistics, but the crime rate is still plotted against a base population figure of 267,000. If that huge visiting population were factored into the ratio, or crimes involving that population were excluded from the statistics, I suggest one would end up with a very different picture. As permanent residents, concerned about crime and quality of life in Asheville, we do ourselves a disservice if we either try to diminish, or exaggerate the problems we face in our community.

  4. kw

    We need to send LOCK OUT felony drug-using tourists! Especially if they’re first responders from Florida who should know better and not be a drain on the good law-abiding taxpaying people who live here in Cool Green Asheville. SHAME SHAME SHAME on Mayor Manheimer for not making a public statement and promise to protect our Community.

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