Sunday, July 15, 2018

George Marquardt; the real Walter White

The current epidemic is not the first time fentanyl has shown up as a highly addictive killer. In the early 1990’s, DEA officers tracked a rash of fatal fentanyl overdoses in the northeastern U.S. They found between 126 and 300 dead users, all from the same designer drug. It appeared to investigators that someone had cracked the prescription’s recipe in an illegal lab and was now selling his secret to drug dealers and fellow "cooks".

Their man was a one-time science fair champion and self-taught chemist in Wichita, Kansas, named George Marquardt.
A retired DEA agent involved in the hunt for Marquardt calls him the very best illicit chemist in the history of American drugmaking. And one of the deadliest. He was described variously by reporters in the ’90s as a “mythical figure,” an “evil genius,” and a “serial killer.”
There is no comparing Marquardt to the fictional Walter White in the TV series Breaking Bad. Marquardt could manufacture the precursors and analyze them with his own home built mass spectrometer. Few illicit chemists have the sophistication or the equipment to make fentanyl in marketable quantities. But early in 1991, it became apparent that somebody was.

The end came and Marquardt was sentenced to 25 years, eventually serving 22 before his release last year. As soon as he was jailed, the torrent of deadly fentanyl overdoses dried up. George Marquardt died last fall.