Did airport screener swallow fentanyl-laced dollar bills?

By Alex P. Vidal

“Poison is in everything, and nothing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”—Paracelsus

IF the dollar bills allegedly swallowed recently by an Office of Transportation Security (OTS) screener at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) contained fentanyl, she could be dead today.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Powdered fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs and is extremely dangerous.

The CDC said that more than 150 people die every day in the United State from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

And since 2018, fentanyl-laced pill seizures by law enforcement has increased nearly 50-fold amid a period of record-high overdose deaths, a recent study found.

That’s why we must give the embattled OTS screener the benefit of the doubt when she reportedly claimed in her affidavit she swallowed chocolates, not the $300 bills that belonged to a departing Chinese passenger at the NAIA early this month.

Chocolates can’t kill; dollar bills with fentanyl can.

If she was telling a lie and what she swallowed were really US dollar bills, somebody should tell her to see a doctor right away.


The OTS screener, who was suspended and is now facing charges together with her alleged cohorts, was caught in the closed circuit-television (CCTV) footage swallowing something after the Chinese passenger reported that his $300 was missing.

Authorities in Tennessee, USA had warned residents not to pick up discarded folded dollar bills because they may contain fentanyl.

The Perry County Sheriff’s Office said there were two incidents where “a white powdery substance” was found inside folded US dollar bills left on the floor of a local gas station.

The powder was tested and came back positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook statement.

“This is very dangerous, folks! Please share and educate your children to not pick up the money,” Sheriff Nick Weems said.

“I personally plan to push for legislation for a bill that would intensify the punishment, if someone is caught using money as a carrying pouch for such poison. It enrages me as a father and the Sheriff, that people can act so carelessly and have no regard for others well-being, especially a child.”


Below is the email I received from New York Governor Kathy Hochul which she also sent to other New Yorkers:

Alex, During my first week in office, when New York was hit by Hurricane Ida, I visited homes in Queens, Staten Island, and beyond and saw the devastation communities faced firsthand.

I’ll never forget meeting Murphy, an East Elmhurst resident, who was sound asleep when the flooding began. Water continuously crept in until two of his basement windows crashed open, forcing the water up to his neck. He swam for his life until first responders put their own lives on the line to save Murphy and countless other New Yorkers.

Since then, we’ve faced multiple “hundred-year storms,” which are arriving more frequently than their moniker suggests.

In the past few months alone, we had blizzards in Buffalo bring the most snowfall the state had ever seen in a 24-hour period. We faced devastating flooding in the Hudson Valley that washed away streets and cars. We saw orange skies from wildfires that made New York City and Syracuse experience the worst air quality on the planet.

These events are glaring reminders that while we are the first generation that has felt the impact of climate change, we are the last generation to be able to do anything about it.

Climate inaction is not an option — so New York is stepping up.  

We authorized $4.2 billion for the Environmental Bond Act to help preserve and restore New York’s natural resources and clean water, while supporting green jobs.

Earlier this year, we set a national precedent by requiring all-electric building construction by 2029.

I joined 25 other U.S. Climate Alliance governors to tackle building emissions and lower energy costs, committing to the ambitious goal of installing 20 million heat pump installations by 2030.
We began construction on the 
Champlain Hudson Power Express converter station—the first major fossil fuel site to be converted to a clean energy facility in New York City.

We’re investing $200 million to help low-income families make their homes more efficient and lower their energy bills, because clean energy and energy affordability go hand-in-hand.

Climate change is the defining challenge of our era. 

Alex, together we can and will make a profound difference and protect all that we love about New York. Ever Upward, Gov. Kathy Hochul

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)