CLEVELAND — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is issuing a public safety warning after a startling increase in fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills are being confiscated by law enforcement. Officials said at the DEA laboratory six out of ten pills analyzed contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
In Northeast Ohio, DEA agents have discovered a troubling trend.
“Typically, in a lot of cases the pills were manufactured in Mexico and then distributed up to the United States. But we’re finding now where people are actually setting up labs and we found several of them here in Cleveland where they’re producing these fentanyl pills right in their homes,” said Tom Gergye, DEA assistant special agent in charge, Ohio.
We’ve reported about fentanyl pills disguised as painkillers and other pharmaceutical drugs before, but now Gergye said more pill presses are turning up on search warrants along with all the illegal ingredients needed to make the pills.
“They’re guesstimating it, they’re mixing it up and they’re selling it,” said Gergye.
It’s estimated that pill presses can crank out about 5,000 of the fake pills an hour, according to officials.
“This is the predominant way fentanyl is being marketed,” said Pat Hengst, director Lake County Narcotics Agency.
In Lake County so far this year, narcotics agents have confiscated about 7,000 pills, with 5,000 discovered at one time in a search warrant in September. The amount of fentanyl that can fit on the tip of a pencil point can kill.
While federal and local law enforcement agents work to confiscate the illegal pills, the DEA is trying to educate the public with the agency’s One Pill Can Kill campaign. They are also urging parents to talk to your children.
“Every parent right now should be having a conversation with their children because the way they are marketing it, they’re branding it, it looks very appealing to kids because it’s rainbow fentanyl,” said Gergye.
Rainbow fentanyl is fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors and shapes. It is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers, according to DEA officials, to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults.
And a reminder, “really the only safe place to get medication is from your doctor,” said Hengst.
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