Law enforcement officials are warning parents about a recent trend of drug cartels disguising the deadly drug fentanyl as candy, such as Nerds and Skittles.
The powerful synthetic opioid is also being used in counterfeit pills which drug dealers then market as prescription medications such as Oxycodone, Xanax, and Percocet. The fake pills are impossible to tell from real ones.
The colored pills are known as “rainbow fentanyl,” and come in a variety of bright colors similar to candy. Drug traffickers utilize social media to gain access to adolescents and teens.
Drug traffickers mix fentanyl into other drugs because it is cheap to manufacture. This practice leads to individuals ingesting fentanyl without knowing it, which can lead to overdose or death.
Drug Enforcement Administration officials say four out of every 10 fake pills laced with fentanyl contain a deadly amount. In the last few months, law enforcement officials have found a huge number of fentanyl pills disguised as prescription drugs.
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more
potent than morphine. As little as two milligrams – an amount equal to about 10-15 grains of salt – is considered a lethal dose.
Last month the Drug Enforcement Agency seized brightly colored fentanyl in 18 states. Some of it was contained in Nerds and Skittles packaging and some were in block form, resembling sidewalk chalk.
Fake prescription pills are sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, meaning they are accessible to anyone with a smartphone – including minors.
The rate of deaths in the United States from synthetic opioids has reached crisis proportions. The CDC said over the 12-month period ending in January 2022, 107,375 Americans died of drug overdoses with 67% related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
The drug is often mixed with other illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin and users are often unaware that they are ingesting fentanyl.
For more information on how to talk to your loved ones about drugs, visit dea.org.