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DEA Scoops Up 36 Million Lethal Doses of Fentanyl Off the Streets

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced that the result of a massive drug operation, which spanned May through September, produced over 10,000,000 fentanyl tablets and 36 million fatal doses. Agents from the DEA blame two cartels for the massive production of most of these pills: the Sinaloa Cartel (CJNG) and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

While scooping up cartel-manufactured fentanyl off the streets sounds like reason to celebrate—keep in mind that this is only Half According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 40% of all opioid-related deaths are caused by prescriptions. Fentanyl is a potent drug that can kill anyone, regardless of where they come from. The National Safety Council states that young Americans are three times more likely to succumb to opioids than to a fatal car accident.

However, it’s highly likely lives were saved in the process during this particular operation. In a press release on September 30, the DEA published these statistics.

As part of the One Pill Can Kill initiative—a public Awareness Campaign to educate the public of the dangers of counterfeit pills such as fentanyl—the DEA and its law enforcement partners seized massive quantities of opioid drugs.

Is the opioid epidemic spreading? Between May 23rd and September 8th, the DEA seized approximately 10.2 million fentanyl pill capsules as well 980 pounds fentanyl powder.

Often, fentanyl is pressed into blue, round pills that appear to be pharmaceutical in nature, so people think they’re safe. Often, they’re not. In addition, they’ve been showing up in different colors, dubbed “rainbow fentanyl” by the media and the DEA itself. People who can tolerate oxycodone and hydrocodone may not be able to take fentanyl, or any of its analogs such as carfentanil.

According to the DEA’s math, the amount of fentanyl seized is equivalent to over 36 million lethal doses of the drug removed from the supply. DEA agents also seized 338 weapons, including shotguns and pistols as well as hand grenades.

“Fentanyl is responsible for killing thousands of people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV). We are working diligently with our federal, state, and local partners to mitigate this public health crisis,” said Jarod Forget, DEA Washington Division’s Special Agent in Charge. “Our team is actively seizing significant amounts of deadly fentanyl and working hard on impactful operations and community events to halt the distribution of these deadly drugs into our communities. Mexican cartels push deadly, fake drugs often laced fentanyl into neighborhoods in order to capitalize on the opioid crisis. These criminals will be relentlessly pursued and our efforts to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones continue. People who are poisoned by fentanyl often did not know that they had taken it with other drugs or mixed it into pills. Our message to the public is that you never can be certain what is in them and that just ‘One Pill Can Kill’.”

Nearly 400 cases have been investigated. 51 are suspected of being overdose poisoning cases. 35 of these cases were directly linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, or CJNG by DEA agents.

Here’s how things have changed, however: According to the DEA, 129 investigations are linked to social media platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and TikTok. Anybody working in cannabis knows that there are plugs for all manner of drugs.

Statistics like these were not available until the One Pill Can Kill Phase II results were released by Anne Milgram, DEA Administrator.

According to the DEA, fentanyl poses the greatest threat to this country’s health. “In 2021, a record number of Americans—107,622—died from a drug poisoning or overdose,” the DEA release reads. “Sixty-six percent of those deaths can be attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.”

Particular events highlight the fentanyl issue, such as a recent Los Angeles incident that saw pills with fentanyl disguised as another substance. Pasadena Police Department took 328,000 pills laced with fentanyl in one operation, September 24. Their total was approximately 708,500. Eight pounds of pills with fentanyl were also taken by Whittier police just minutes later.

Additional resources for parents and the community can be found on DEA’s Fentanyl Awareness page, and the DEA created a new resource, “What Every Parent and Caregiver Needs to Know About Fake Pills.”