DEA issues public safety alert lethal fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills

Six of 10 fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills DEA analyzed in 2022 contained a potentially lethal dose.

Published: November 22, 2022 3:37pm

Updated: November 22, 2022 11:56pm

(The Center Square) -

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has issued another public safety alert warning Americans of a “sharp nationwide increase in the lethality of fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills.”

Six of 10 fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills its experts analyzed in 2022 contained a potentially lethal dose, the DEA says, an increase from 4 out of 10 pills tested last year.

“More than half of the fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills being trafficked in communities across the country now contain a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “This marks a dramatic increase – from four out of ten to six out of ten – in the number of pills that can kill.

“These pills are being mass-produced by the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel, in Mexico,” she said, referring to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC), a deadly rival of the Sinaloa.

For the past two years, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said “the cartels have been emboldened by Biden administration’s open border policies that are killing Americans.”

In March 2021, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star to interdict Mexican cartel-linked criminal activity coming through the southern border. He also recently designated the Sinaloa and JCNG cartels as foreign terrorist organizations and called on President Joe Biden to do the same. Abbott hasn’t heard back.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and 17 attorneys general also called on Biden to classify illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. They also haven’t received a reply.

The DEA’s public safety alert comes after Texas’ OLS officers have seized over 352 million lethal doses of fentanyl since last March, enough to kill everyone in the U.S.

It also comes after Florida law enforcement officers in the last few months seized enough fentanyl to kill everyone in Florida. That was after they after shut down a major drug trafficking operation run by gang members affiliated with Mexican cartels and seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly half of Florida’s population.

And after DEA agents earlier this year in a three-month operation seized 10.2 million fake pills in all 50 states after they’d seized more than 20.4 million fake prescription pills in 2021.

Moody has increasingly been warning Americans “one pill can kill,” especially rainbow fentanyl being used to target children because it looks like candy.

Her office has published a Fast Facts on Fentanyl Toolkit as well as information about digital dealers who are using social media apps targeting minors. The DEA has also published an Emoji Drug Code identifying symbols used to communicate with minors about drugs. Texas also launched a “one pill can kill” public service campaign.

Americans are urged to never take a pill that isn’t prescribed by a doctor, from a friend or purchase anything through social media.

“Fentanyl has flooded into the country, and Joe Biden continues to look the other way as Mexican drug cartels smuggle massive amounts of this deadly opioid across our southwest border,” Moody said. Addressing the president, she said: “Biden, do your job, secure the border and help us end this opioid crisis.”

After receiving the precursors from China, the cartels manufacture fake pills in Mexico to look like real prescription pills like OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax and others that are laced with fentanyl.

“Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country,” the DEA says.

The highly addictive synthetic opioid is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Two milligrams, roughly the weight of a mosquito, and small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially deadly dose.

According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug poisoning in 2021; 66% involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

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