50 indicted for heroin, fentanyl trade in Manhattan, KS

Close-up image of hypodermic needle in person's hand
Photo credit Darwin Brandis - iStock - Getty Images Plus

Manhattan, KS - Indictments this week in a massive Kansas drug trafficking case may be a wake up call, federal prosecutors say.

More than 50 people are named in indictments that were handed down in Operation Chicago Connection, which involved regular trips to Chicago to pick up illegal drugs, which were sold in Manhattan. The case stemmed from a 2017 overdose that killed a student at Kansas State University. The young man was reportedly unaware that the heroin he used was laced with fentanyl, which can be up to 50 times more potent than opium-based drugs.

Fentanyl is commonly manufactured in China and marketed through Mexican cartels, with traffickers who are often ignorant about what the contents of what they are selling, said Dan Cummings, who runs the Jackson County, Missouri Drug Task Force. 

Fentanyl is cheap to make, the profit margin enormous, and according to federal statistics, deaths from overdosing on the powerful narcotic jumped almost 25 percent from 2002 to 2017.