NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO) – 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.
“Even a small amount of fentanyl can be lethal,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley.
“This disturbing trend across the nation, including here in the New Orleans Field Division, of drug dealers adding fentanyl to their heroin to increase the potency and producing counterfeit pills has resulted in an alarming increase in overdoses, many of which have resulted in death. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who ruthlessly traffic these and other dangerous drugs.”
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.