You are here
Home > News > DEA Presents Emoji Explanations for ‘One Pill Can Kill’ Campaign

DEA Presents Emoji Explanations for ‘One Pill Can Kill’ Campaign

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in an effort to inform parents about the emoji conversations their kids use to discuss drug abuse, has made a legend to help them.

On December 16, the DEA held a press conference featuring DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, who reviewed the dangers of illegal drug use, especially on the nation’s youth. Specifically, as a part of the DEA’s “One Pill Can Kill” Campaign, the conference content reviewed a reference sheet of identifiable emoji compilations.

Entries include Oxycodone, Xanax, Percocet, Adderall, cocaine, meth, heroin, MDMA/mollies, cough syrup and mushrooms, as well as phrases that the DEA identifies as “drug dealer adverting that they sell/dealer,” “bomb ass shit,” “high potency,” “universal for drugs” and “large batch/amount,” according to the DEA’s breakdown. “Do you know the meaning behind certain emojis? Emojis were originally designed to represent an emotion, event or activity, but have recently taken on a language of their own,” the DEA writes. “Criminal organizations, including drug traffickers, have noticed and are using emojis to buy and sell counterfeit pills and other illicit drugs on social media and through e-commerce.”

The emoji combination for “marijuana” includes six characters that some might, or might not, consider applicable in translation (although it’s all about interpretation). “The reference guide is intended to give parents, caregivers and influencers a better sense of how this language is being used in conjunction with illegal drugs,” the DEA writes. “It is important to note, this list is not all-inclusive and the images contained below are a representative sample. While emojis should not stand alone as indicators of illegal activity they should be used in conjunction with changes in behavior, appearance, or income loss or increase to help you start a conversation. It can be hard to start these conversations so we offer resources.”

A PowerPoint presentation was also prepared by the DEA that included statistics and details about illegal drug trade and methods to detect counterfeit pills. It also included a brief mention of which social platforms are most commonly used, referred to as “Cases involving criminal drug network activity on social media platforms,” the top three of which are SnapChat, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. This presentation had slightly different emojis than the infographic.

Milgram stated in her press conference that youth die from drug overdoses like fentanyl, which is produced by Mexican drug cartels. “What is equally troubling is that the cartels have harnessed the perfect drug delivery tool: social media… social media applications that are available on every smartphone in the United States. Eighty-five percent of all Americans have smartphones: that is about 280 million smartphones.”

She mentions cannabis only once, specifically with regard to the DEA’s illegal drug haul in the last few months. “In total, between September 29 and December 14 of this year, DEA seized over 8.4 million fake pills, over 5,400 pounds of methamphetamine, and hundreds of pounds each of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, often in the same places that we seized fentanyl. During this surge, DEA has arrested 776 people and seized 288 firearms connected to these drug seizures,” Milgram stated. She concludes the statement with a message urging citizens to “Know the dangers and accessibility of deadly drugs online.”

According to a recent Mexican Defense Secretary report, Mexican cartels have begun to produce synthetic drugs instead of cannabis. This is partly due to legalization of marijuana in some states. Fentanyl now ranks as the most common cause of death among Americans aged 18-45 according to 2019, 2020 data collected by Families Against Fentanyl and presented at the CDC. Fentanyl poisoning was responsible for more deaths than COVID-19, suicide and car accidents.