What Are the Scents of an Illegal Fentanyl Production?

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Fentanyl & now Fenethylline is a concern by legislators, but proclamations of efforts to stop the manufacture are overshadowed by a palpable increase in deaths from overdose.

However, the many faceted restrictions on fentanyl & fentanyl components being imported from Asia, has not resulted in ANY DECREASE in deaths of Americans.

A new variation "Fenethylline" was a point of discussion in August by the ACSH - American Council on Science and Health. And in a report from CNN How fentanyl ingredients cross oceans and borders | CNN - March 2023

fentanyl-drugfacts.pdf (nih.gov)


While a neighborhood fentanyl operation has recognizable signs of the operation, there is another layer of production which might not be as easily determined; that is the conversion of the components more easily obtained in new "cottage-industries" 

According to the American Council on Science and Health while Despropionylfentanyl, 4-Aminophenyl-1-phenethylpiperidine and 4-ANPP are the same molecule..... a competent organic chemist can make it "from any number of smaller, common chemicals. It just takes a bit more work." Organic Chemistry Can Defeat Any Fentanyl Agreement | American Council on Science and Health (acsh.org)

The DEA in 2021 addressed "trash can" drug capsules. "Packaged in U.S. conversion labs — homes or buildings where traffickers alter or remix drugs they buy in bulk and package for resale." DEA: Fentanyl 'trash can' drug capsules a new, deadly threat (usatoday.com)


 How To Recognize A Meth Lab & Ingredients - Bedrock Recovery Center Recovery Center

Similar notations should be made about the distinctive smell of cocaine/crack, or heroin:

  • Heroin is derived from poppy plants,  but despite its floral origins, this opioid does not emit a strong smell.
  • Cocaine/Crack:  Some have reported that the smell from smoking crack is similar to burnt plastic or chemicals.
  • Fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine—is odorless

According to the American Council on Science and Health while Despropionylfentanyl, 4-Aminophenyl-1-phenethylpiperidine and 4-ANPP are the same molecule..... a competent organic chemist can make it "from any number of smaller, common chemicals. It just takes a bit more work."

Another component of illegal fentanyl production is phenethyl alcohol. 

  • A very common chemical
  • An artificial (and also natural) flavor.
  • Smells like roses so it's used in perfume.
  • It's also used in lipstick, toothpaste, makeup, and skincare products.
  • Banning phenethyl alcohol is not feasible

March 2022 The White House issued a statement: "Today, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted to control three chemicals used by drug traffickers to produce illicit fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is driving overdose deaths in the United States...the United States called on the global community to regulate three chemicals commonly used to produce it...Today’s action by CND adds three fentanyl precursor chemicals – 4-anilinopiperidine (4-AP), 1-(tert-butoxycarbonyl)-4-phenylaminopiperidine (boc-4-AP), and N-phenyl-N-(piperidin-4-yl) propionamide (norfentanyl)"

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