What are counterfeit pills?
The Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion are making fentanyl and pressing it into fake pills. Fake pills are made to look like OxyContin®, Xanax®, Adderall®, and other pharmaceuticals. These fake pills contain no legitimate medicine. Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, making them available to anyone with a smartphone.
DEA officials report a dramatic rise in the number of fake pills containing at least 2 mg of fentanyl, which is considered a potentially lethal dose.
Drug traffickers are using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis and prescription drug misuse. In 2022, an estimated 110,757 people died by drug poisoning in the United States.
Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in fake pills, is the primary driver in this alarming increase in poisoning deaths.
Laboratory testing indicates 7 out of every 10 pills seized by DEA contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.
DEA has seized a record 86 million fentanyl pills to date in 2023, which already exceeds last year’s totals of 58 million pills.
Unmasking Fake Pills
Criminal drug networks are flooding the U.S. with deadly fake pills.
— Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills and falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills to deceive the American public.
— Fake pills are easy to purchase, widely available, often contain fentanyl or methamphetamine, and can be deadly.
— Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms, making them available to anyone with a smartphone.
— Many fake pills are made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).
What is fentanyl?
It is a deadly synthetic opioid that is being pressed into fake pills or cut into heroin, cocaine, and other street drugs to drive addiction. Fentanyl is 50x more potent than heroin
What are the physical and mental effects of fentanyl?
Fentanyl use can cause confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, changes in pupil size, cold and clammy skin, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death.
DEA Fentanyl Seizures in 2023
Millions of Fentanyl Pills Seized
Pounds of Fentanyl Powder Seized
In 2022, DEA seized more than 48.9 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and more than 10,495 pounds of fentanyl powder. The 2022 seizures are equivalent to more than 364 million lethal doses of fentanyl
The 2023 fentanyl seizures represent over 410 million deadly doses. *
How would my child get fentanyl?
Drug traffickers are using social media to advertise drugs and conduct sales. If you have a smartphone and a social media account, then a drug trafficker can find you. Drug traffickers advertise on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. These advertisements are in disappearing, 24-hour stories and in posts, which are promptly posted and removed. Posts and stories are often accompanied by known code words and emojis that are used to market and sell illicit and deadly drugs on social media. These code words and emojis are designed to evade detection by law enforcement and by the preset algorithms used by social media platforms.
Why you should be concerned.
The drug landscape is dramatically different from when you grew up, or even from just a few years ago.
All parents and caregivers need to be educated on current drug threats to be able to have informed talks with their kids.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Encourage open and honest communication
Explain what fentanyl is and why it is so dangerous
Stress not to take any pills that were not prescribed to you from a doctor
No pill purchased on social media is safe
Make sure they know fentanyl has been found in most illegal drugsCreate an “exit plan” to help
your child know what to do if they’re pressured to take a pill or use drugs
The only safe medications are ones that come from licensed and accredited medical professionals.
DEA warns that pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal.