DEA Seized Enough Fentanyl in 2021 to Provide A Lethal Dose to Every American
Washington, D.C. - As U.S. overdose deaths reach a devastating new height, claiming a new victim every five minutes, the Drug Enforcement Administration has revealed a direct link between fentanyl-related overdose deaths and criminal drug networks in Mexico. These groups are harnessing social media platforms to bring drugs laced with fentanyl and fake prescription pills into American homes with one click on a smartphone. In a Washington, D.C. press conference, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram announced the results of a public safety surge that lasted from September 29, 2021 through December 14, 2021. The surge targeted criminal drug networks that are harnessing the anonymity and accessibility of social media apps to push deadly drugs into American communities.
DEA officials warn that criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing deadly fentanyl and fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills, using chemicals sourced largely from China. These fake prescription pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions—such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax® and other medicines—and have been found in every state in the country.
In September, the DEA issued its first Public Safety Alert in six years to warn the public about the alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fake prescription pills in the United States. These fake prescription pills often contain deadly doses of fentanyl. DEA has determined that four out of ten DEA-tested fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl—an amount that is considered to be a lethal dose.
Today’s announced public safety surge demonstrates that the United States is facing unprecedented levels of fentanyl in our communities. This year alone, DEA has seized enough fentanyl to provide a lethal dose to every American. Much of this fentanyl is in the form of fake prescription pills. In 2021, DEA has seized a staggering 20.4 million fake prescription pills.
During the recent public safety surge, DEA and law enforcement partners seized more than 1,500 pounds of fentanyl and over eight million fake prescription pills. The seizures were directly linked to at least 46 overdoses and 39 overdose deaths. At least 76 of the cases involved drug traffickers using social media applications, including Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. 32 cases have direct ties to the major Mexican drug networks that are mass-producing and distributing fentanyl.
“Mexican criminal drug networks are harnessing the perfect drug trafficking tool: social media applications that are available on every smartphone,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “They are using these platforms to flood our country with fentanyl. The ease with which drug dealers can operate on social media and other popular smartphone apps is fueling our Nation’s unprecedented overdose epidemic.”
DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill campaign to inform the American public of the dangers of fake prescription pills. The only safe prescription medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional that you get from a licensed pharmacist. All other pills are unsafe and potentially deadly.
Facts About Fake Pills
Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills and falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills to deceive the American public.
Fake pills are easy to purchase, widely available, often contain fentanyl or methamphetamine, and can be deadly.
Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.
Many fake pills are made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).
Legit or Fake
Synthetic opioid drugs prescribed for pain as OxyContin®, Tylox®, and Percodan®. These drugs are derived from one species of the poppy plant and have a high potential for abuse.
Depressants that produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and prevent seizures. Available in prescription pills, syrup and injectable preparation. Prescribed as Valium®, Xanax®, Restoril®, Ativan®, Klonopin®
Prescription stimulants are used to treat Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Used as a study aid, to stay awake, and to suppress appetites. Prescribed as Adderall®, Concerta®, Dexedrine®, Focalin®, Metadate®, Methylin®, and Ritalin®.