NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As New York City sees an increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses, prosecutors and detectives say they're also seeing an increase in the amount of illegal weapons coming into the city.
Drugs laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl are being brought in from Mexico and it's getting packaged and distributed in apartments in every Borough, from a penthouse in Midtown West, to an apartment near the Bronx courthouse, to a home in Queens.
"Those packaging mills might be on your block on our street and you wouldn't have any idea," said New York City Special Narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
The special narcotics prosecutor said they're often finding illegal firearms along with the fentanyl when serving search warrants, something they haven't seen before.
"Another trend that we're seeing is an association of more violence," said Brennan. "You know these drugs are worth a lot of money and obviously the traffickers aren't going to call the police if they're stolen from them or something happens."
Her office is part of area's Drug Enforcement Taskforce. The agencies work as a coordinated team and have all experienced an increase in fentanyl seized and firearms.
"Narcotic shootings for the year are up tremendously," said assistant chief Christopher McCormack. "Drug dealers are now carrying the guns on them when back in the day, they would have somebody else carrying the gun on him."
As 7 On Your Side Investigates first exposed in a special "2 Milligrams: Fatal Dose," the manmade fentanyl is cheaper to produce. It's getting sent from China to Mexico, where it's then shipped to the Tri-State area. It's being laced inside everything from pills, to marijuana to heroin.
There is an overdose in New York City every three hours. Eighty percent of overdoses in New York City are now fentanyl-related.
Prosecutors say, even though the cartels are killing potential clients, they're getting many more people addicted to the dangerous drug.
"They know they have an ever-expanding client base and so it really doesn't matter to them if some people die," said Brennan. "It's more dangerous to the user than crack because it's extremely, extremely potent."
It's more dangerous for users but still not as dangerous when it comes to the gun violence the city experienced in the '80s and early '90s. At least, not yet.
"We need people to be held accountable, some people just need to be in jail," McCormack said.
"We try to stop it at the highest point possible," explained Brennan. "So when we seize 40 pounds, there's going to be a lot of dealers who are dry, and that's good. But if you can get to it even before it's ever produced, that would be even better."
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