DEA warns of fake prescriptions containing meth, fentanyl

Last month, the Drug Enforcement Agency released a statement regarding the discovery of fake prescription drugs that were laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine, two of the most widely abused illicit drugs in the United States.

The last time that DEA issued an alert like this one was back in 2015, when there was a sharp increase on the street of fentanyl-laced heroin.

According to DEA, the pills were made to look just like real opioid medications, including oxycodone, Percocet, hydrocodone, alprazolam and even amphetamines like Adderall.

In an interview with News Channel 5 Nashville, former DEA agent Calvin Higgins touched on one of the main reasons why it is so dangerous for these drug operations to be occurring in the United States.

“Unbeknownst to the people receiving them, they think they’re just receiving Percocet or oxycontin, but to boost up these pills … drug dealers are surreptitiously putting in fentanyl,” Higgins said.

Production of these counterfeit pills is mainly taking place in Mexico, along with the supply assistance of China.

These fake pills are not only sold on the street by drug dealers, but also through social media platforms like Snapchat and Tiktok that allow for the younger app users to get in contact with nearby drug dealers.

Anne Milgram, a DEA administrator, spoke to WAVE 3 about the ease of accessing these drugs.

“The drug dealer is not sitting down the street from you, it is sitting in your home,” Milgram said. “It is sitting on the phone with your child in their bedroom, it is sitting on your couch; anyone can have access.”

In the last two months, DEA has made 810 arrests and seized more than 1.8 million fake pills. However, the total number of counterfeit prescription pills that have been seized by DEA is 9.5 million, which is more than in the 2019 and 2020, combined.

The Department of Justice released a statement that the number of fentanyl-laced prescription pills has increased nearly 430% since 2019.

Out of every five prescription pills laced with fentanyl, two contain a potentially lethal dose of the drug, according to NPR.

Additionally, a statement made by DEA to the New York Post explained how much of the drug is enough to kill those who use it.

“DEA laboratory testing reveals a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose,” said DEA in the alert sent out last month.

In an interview with NPR, Milgram spoke about how the presence of fentanyl in fake prescription drugs is fueling the overdose crisis.

“Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before,” Milgram said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  reported more than 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020 alone.

“Opioids were responsible for nearly three quarters of the more than 93,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States in 2020,” Milgram said.

Fentanyl is the biggest reason for why the number of overdose deaths in the United States has increased at such a rapid pace.

Drug poisonings that result from methamphetamine have also increased.

DEA wants the American population to know that even though these prescription pills are easily accessible, that there are risks and dangers involved in searching for these drugs.

Not only is drug trafficking such a major problem, but the violence that results from it is also becoming more and more concerning.

In fact, this year alone the DEA has seized approximately 2,700 firearms that were involved in drug trafficking.

While DEA races to learn more about these fake prescription pills, many other drug busts and drug-related arrests have occured nationwide.

According to KTOO, drug kingpin Miguel Baez Guevara was arrested after leading a drug network that transported cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico to Alaska.

Additionally, $4.5 million worth of methamphetamine was seized by DEA in a house in Ellenwood, a neighborhood in Atlanta, GA earlier this month.

After a large amount of methamphetamine was found in Atlanta, the special agent in charge of the operation, Rob Murphy made a statement about this discovery.

“They’re not going to stop,” Murphy said. “They’ll keep sending people and we’re not going to stop either. We’ll keep attacking them when they send them.”