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Drug Cartels Flooding US With Fentanyl-Laced Prescription Drug Fakes

By Desiree Bowie 11/07/19

About 27% of the fake pills seized by the DEA earlier this year were found to contain fentanyl.

fentanyl-laced prescription drugs
photo credit: DEA

Are Mexican drug cartels targeting Americans with counterfeit prescription drugs? Yes, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“They can make those pills look like almost anything. So, if they’re making those pills and manufacturing them to look like an Adderall or Xanax, they are targeting our children,” DEA Special Agent DeLena told Boston25 News.

Fentanyl-Laced Fakes

The agency issued a press release warning the public that fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl are making its way across the border. About 27% of the fake pills seized earlier this year were found to contain fentanyl, the potentially deadly synthetic opioid that has exacerbated the opioid epidemic.

“Capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States, drug trafficking organizations are now sending counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in bulk to the United States for distribution,” said Uttam Dhillon, the Acting DEA Administrator. “Counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.”

How The Pills Gets Into The Country

According to the DEA, cartels use a number of creative means to get the fake pills into the country including hiding them in gas tanks, tractor trailers and most notably sending them in through the postal sevice. Legally, only drug manufacturers and pharmacists can use the mail to send drugs to consumers.The government has failed to hold the US Postal Service to the standards which it holds delivery services like FedEx and UPS, IDS News notes. The lack of oversight is one of the reasons why drug dealers feel confident to use the USPS to send thousands of dollars in product into the country.

In some cases, postal service workers are in on the trafficking. Last November, 16 USPS employees in Atlanta were convicted of taking bribes (some as low as $250) from the cartel to distribute cocaine on their routes. 

“US Postal Service workers are typically valuable members of the community, entrusted to deliver the mail every day to our homes,” said US Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “This important operation identified and prosecuted 16 corrupt individuals who chose to abuse that trust and instead used their positions to bring what they thought were large amounts of dangerous drugs into those same communities for a quick payoff.”

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Desiree Bowie is a writer and movie lover from Los Angeles, California. Follow her on Twitter @dangerbowie

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