DEA seizes historic amount of fentanyl-laced pills

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Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019 in New York. – According to US government data, about 32,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2018. That accounts for 46 percent of all fatal overdoses. Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for a range of conditions, has been central to the American opioid crisis which began in the late 1990s. (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram announced agents have seized a historic amount of fentanyl-laced pills in the United States.

The said fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid found in most of the fake pills that were seized, is the primary driver of the recent increase in U.S. overdose deaths.

“Illicit fentanyl was responsible for nearly three quarters of the more than 93,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States in 2020,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “The pervasiveness of these illicit drugs, and the fatal overdoses that too often result, is a problem that cuts across America from small towns to big cities and everything in between. One pill can kill. The department will continue to use all of the resources at its disposal to save lives, complementing strong enforcement efforts with public awareness and outreach campaigns, as well.”

“During the past eight weeks, DEA has targeted the criminal drug networks flooding the U.S. with deadly, fentanyl-laced fake pills,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “DEA remains steadfast in its commitment reduce drug-related violence and overdose deaths by dismantling the violent, criminal drug distribution networks across the United States. The fentanyl-laced fake pills seized by DEA could potentially kill more than 700,000 Americans. I urge the American public today to talk to their loved ones about the threats and dangers of fake pills and the simple fact that one pill can kill.”

According to the DEA, Mexican criminal drug networks are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced fake pills using chemicals sourced largely from China, and are distributing these pills through U.S. criminal networks.

The fake pills are nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall®, Xanax, and other medicines. DEA Agents said criminal drug networks are selling the pills through social media, e-commerce, the dark web, and existing distribution networks.

Over the past two months, working in concert with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, the DEA seized 1.8 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and arrested 810 drug traffickers in cities, suburbs, and rural communities spanning the United States. According to officials, the amount of deadly fentanyl-laced fake pills seized by DEA since August 3rd is enough to kill more than 700,000 Americans.

These recent seizures add to the more than 9.5 million potentially deadly fake pills that DEA seized in the past year, which is more than the last two years combined.

During the two-month law enforcement surge targeting fake pills, DEA also seized 712 kilograms of fentanyl powder: enough to make tens of millions of lethal pills. DEA seized 158 weapons and many of the enforcement actions are tied to violence and overdose deaths. Additionally, DEA seized 4,011 kilograms of methamphetamine and 653 kilograms of cocaine.

DEA issued a Public Safety Alert on Monday, September 27, 2021, warning the American public about the increasing availability of fake pills that are more deadly than ever before.

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