Fake pills containing fentanyl are helping drive overdose deaths — and some are designed to look like candy, DEA says

An growing variety of faux prescription capsules that include probably lethal fentanyl are serving to drive overdose dying charges to document ranges within the U.S., together with some now manufactured in rainbow colours designed to seem like sweet, federal officers stated Tuesday.  

Drug Enforcement Administration brokers are working to crack down on violent drug cartels in Mexico believed to be trafficking the medication into the U.S., Lawyer Common Merrick Garland stated. Between Could and September, the DEA and native police across the nation seized greater than 10 million fentanyl capsules and a whole lot of kilos of powder, he stated.

Vastly highly effective artificial medication like fentanyl are behind record overdose deaths within the U.S. Regulation enforcement officers nationwide have been struggling to fight the surge of medicine in city and rural communities. The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has overshadowed the American opioid epidemic, however when overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 in the course of the 12-month interval ending in April 2021, it rocketed again into the general public consciousness.

“I learn too many experiences on too many instances, together with too many younger individuals who ended up dying after taking only one capsule laced with fentanyl, typically disguised as one thing else,” Garland stated.

First reported in February, the rainbow capsules have been seized in 21 states now, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram stated. Whereas fentanyl remains to be extra generally disguised as oxycodone or one other prescription drug, the rainbow capsules are on the rise.

“We consider it’s being marketed and geared toward younger folks,” Milgram stated.

DEA warns
A picture of what’s referred to as “rainbow fentanyl” capsules. 

Drug Enforcement Administration

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., additionally sounded the alarm this weekend concerning the rise of the drug in New York Metropolis and Lengthy Island as he pushed for brand new funding to struggle its unfold.

Two Mexican drug cartels are accountable for almost all of fentanyl within the U.S., federal authorities stated. The Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Technology Cartel purchase precursor chemical substances from China, then site visitors them into the U.S., the place they’re generally bought on social media platforms.

“These cartels are performing with calculated, deliberate treachery to get fentanyl to the US and to get folks to purchase it by way of faux capsules, by hiding it in different medication, any implies that they’ll take as a way to drive habit and to earn cash,”  Milgram told “CBS Mornings” this month.

The Division of Justice considers the Jalisco cartel to be “one of many 5 most harmful transnational legal organizations on the earth.” The cartel’s chief, Nemesio Oseguera, “El Mencho,” is among the many most sought by Mexican and U.S. authorities.

During the last 4 months, authorities have investigated practically 400 instances, 51 of them linked to overdoses and 35 tied on to the 2 cartels. Along with being pressed into faux capsules, fentanyl powder can be moved into different medication like cocaine and heroin, Milgram stated.

“Our prime operational precedence has been and can proceed to be to defeat these two cartels,” she stated.

Fentanyl is an artificial opioid that may be 50 occasions stronger than heroin, and even a tiny quantity will be deadly. Faux prescription capsules are particularly harmful as a result of it is troublesome to inform how sturdy they’re.

About two-thirds of overdose deaths within the U.S. have been linked to fentanyl or different highly effective, illicitly made artificial opioids.

Jonathan Caulkins, a professor of operations analysis and public coverage at Carnegie Mellon College, stated containing synthetics with regulation enforcement is a problem as a result of the drug will be made in labs anyplace somewhat than grown in fields like cocaine or heroin – and since it’s so potent and is trafficked in smaller quantities.

“How on earth is regulation enforcement supposed to seek out just a few metric tons in an financial system that trades megatons of uncooked supplies?” Caulkins requested.

Caulkins stated the perfect methods to cope with the fentanyl disaster is to place cash towards therapy and growing the supply of naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses – however added that utilizing arrests to scale back the availability could also be price making an attempt.

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