PHOENIX – The Drug Enforcement Administration is alerting the public of dangerous counterfeit pills killing Americans. Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid that is lethal in minute doses, for distribution throughout North America.
Based on a sampling of tablets seized nationwide between January and March 2019, DEA found that 27 percent contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.
“Capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States, drug trafficking organizations are now sending counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in bulk to the United States for distribution,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “Counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.”
Fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids remain the primary driver behind the ongoing opioid crisis, with fentanyl involved in more deaths than any other illicit drug.
“The threat of these fentanyl pills continues to skyrocket in Arizona, with law enforcement seizing over 1.4 million of the pills just this past fiscal year,” said DEA Phoenix Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Apolonio Ruiz. “DEA agents in Arizona are committed to identifying the drug trafficking organizations responsible for the proliferation of this deadly drug in our communities.”
Law enforcement in Arizona seized an estimated 1,418,362 pills in fiscal year 2019, up from 379,557 pills in 2018.
A lethal dose of fentanyl is estimated to be about two milligrams, but can vary based on an individual’s body size, tolerance, amount of previous usage and other factors. The full Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program Report on the recent drug sampling and testing is available on the DEA.gov website.
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