DEA sees increase in deadly fake drugs | News, Sports, Jobs

The Drug Enforcement Administration is alerting the public to the increased availability of potentially fatal fake prescription pills.

The DEA says these pills contain fentanyl and methamphetamine.

This is the first public safety alert the DEA has issued in six years, and it talks about a criminal drug ring that mass-produces these fake pills in labs and deceptively markets them as pills on legitimate prescription.

These drugs are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate, according to a press release from the DEA. Fake prescription pills are widely available, often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, making them accessible to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.

More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year in all 50 states, the DEA said, which is more than the past two years combined.

“What is particularly alarming is the way these pills are often marketed and packaged as legitimate prescription drugs,” said DEA Special Agent Keith Martin, who oversees Ohio drug cases. “To the naked eye, they appear to be the same pill you would get at a local drugstore, when in fact, they often contain lethal doses of fentanyl.

“This summer alone we seized hundreds of thousands of fake pills”, Martin said.


Captain Tony Villanueva, head of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Drugs Task Force, admitted that the fake pills were circulating in the Mahoning Valley.

“We have seen an increase in investigations involving suspected counterfeit pills,” said Villanueva. “During our investigations, we learned that some of the pills sold on the street contain suspected fentanyl. We are currently conducting investigations in which we are awaiting the results of the (state crime lab) to find the chemistry in the pills that have been submitted for analysis.

As late as Wednesday, TAG officers conducted a traffic stop on Interstate 80 in Trumbull County and encountered a number of suspected fake pills, which are currently being tested in the laboratory of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation of the Ohio.

Villanueva said it was important to educate local communities about these fake pills which could contain lethal doses.

“They bring them here by any means they can, and they try to exploit every possible mechanism: the border, the ports, the commercial shipping, the mail, and so on. Martin said.

DEA and local law enforcement, such as TAG and the Mahoning County Law Enforcement Task Force, commanded by Sgt. Larry McLaughlin, are “All laser-focused on stopping drugs at every current and potential point of entry and on pursuing those who distribute them in our communities”, he said.


The vast majority of counterfeit pills imported into the United States are produced in Mexico, and China supplies chemicals for making fentanyl in Mexico, according to the DEA statement.

Many of these fake pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered lethal. A lethal dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil, according to the DEA statement.

McLaughlin said he was not surprised that these fake pills contain fentanyl.

“Fentanyl seems to be more common these days than heroin on the streets”, McLaughlin said – noting that his team sees a lot of Oxycontin pills on the street that contain fentanyl.

These counterfeit pills are designed to look like real prescription opioid drugs such as oxycodone (Oxycontin or Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants such as amphetamines (Adderall).

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2020. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the main driver of this alarming increase in overdoses. deaths.

Drug poisoning involving methamphetamine, increasingly found in counterfeit pills, also continues to increase as illegal pills containing methamphetamine become more widespread.

Drug trafficking is also linked to gun violence. This year alone, the DEA seized more than 2,700 firearms in drug trafficking investigations, a 30% increase since 2019.

The disclaimer does not apply to certified physicians who write prescriptions. Anyone filling a prescription at an approved pharmacy can be confident that the medications they receive are safe when taken as directed by a healthcare practitioner, the DEA statement said.

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