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Feds announce arrests in Ala., other states in fentanyl investigation

Seeing spike in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and meth.
Seeing spike in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and meth.(KOLD News 13)
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 9:38 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Federal investigators announced a new effort to get rid of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced pills across the Southeast and the United States.

In the New Orleans Field Division states of Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas, three federal search warrants and two state search warrants were executed. There were two federal arrests and 17 state arrests.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid found in most of the fake pills that were seized in the investigations, is the primary driver of the recent increase in U.S. overdose deaths.

“Illicit fentanyl was responsible for nearly three quarters of the more than 93,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States in 2020,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “The pervasiveness of these illicit drugs, and the fatal overdoses that too often result, is a problem that cuts across America from small towns to big cities and everything in between. One pill can kill. The department will continue to use all of the resources at its disposal to save lives, complementing strong enforcement efforts with public awareness and outreach campaigns, as well.”

“During the past eight weeks, DEA has targeted the criminal drug networks flooding the U.S. with deadly, fentanyl-laced fake pills,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “DEA remains steadfast in its commitment reduce drug-related violence and overdose deaths by dismantling the violent, criminal drug distribution networks across the United States. The fentanyl-laced fake pills seized by DEA could potentially kill more than 700,000 Americans. I urge the American public today to talk to their loved ones about the threats and dangers of fake pills and the simple fact that one pill can kill.”

Investigators said Mexican criminal drug networks are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced fake pills using chemicals sourced largely from China, and are distributing these pills through U.S. criminal networks. These fake pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax®, and other medicines.

The pills are sold through social media, e-commerce, the dark web, and other distribution networks. DEA laboratory testing reveals that today, four out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake pills contain a potentially lethal dose.

Moreover, the number of fake pills containing fentanyl has jumped nearly 430 percent since 2019. On August 3, 2021, DEA launched a nationwide law enforcement effort to address the alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fentanyl-laced fake pills.

These recent seizures add to the more than 9.5 million potentially deadly fake pills that DEA seized in the past year, which is more than the last two years combined.

The following was seized during this nationwide effort (approximate): 219 fentanyl pills, 3,530 grams of fentanyl, 11 ounces of heroin, 23 ounces of cocaine, six pounds of marijuana, 3,503 tramadol/lidocaine tablets, one handgun and $28,800 in U.S. currency.

For more information, visit DEA.Gov/onepill.

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