US sees sharp spike in fentanyl levels in fake pills

New data from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has revealed an alarming trend towards potentially fatal doses of fentanyl in counterfeit pills seized in enforcement operations.

The latest figures from the agency suggest that around 70 per cent out of a massive 62m pills seized to date in 2023 contained a dose of fentanyl that could be lethal if ingested, up from 60 per cent of the 58m pills seized in 2022 and 40 per cent in 2021’s haul.

This dramatic rise means that anyone buying counterfeit pills online, especially children, are even more likely to die if they take just a single fake pill, according to Representative Josh Harder (D-CA), who is trying to raise awareness of the alarming findings and the rise of social media channels like Snapchat that are using to distribute the fake medicines.

“As a dad, this is incredibly scary. Drug dealers are targeting our kids online with pills that could literally kill them after one dosage. It’s horrifying,” said Rep Harder. “And with this new data, we now know the problem is getting even more deadly,” he added. “We must hold social media companies accountable, bring these evil drug dealers to justice, and do everything we can to protect our kids.”

Earlier this week, the DEA indicted nine people accused of funnelling fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine into Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona who are suspected of working for the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.

The gang were arrested following the seizure of 84 pounds (around 38 kg) of fentanyl pills, as well as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, firearms and cash. The DEA said that the fentanyl pills could potentially have caused up to 290,000 deaths if allowed to reach the street.

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