By a Biometrica staffer
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized enough fentanyl in 2021 to provide a lethal dose to every single American. Overdose-related deaths in the U.S. are reaching devastating new heights, claiming a new victim every five minutes, the DEA said in a statement. On Thursday, Dec. 16, the DEA announced that there was a direct link between fentanyl-related overdose deaths and criminal drug networks in Mexico.
These groups are harnessing social media platforms to bring drugs laced with fentanyl and fake prescription pills into American homes with one click on a smartphone, the DEA added. DEA Administrator Anne Milgram announced the results of a public safety surge that lasted from Sept. 29, 2021 through Dec. 14, 2021 at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
The surge targeted criminal drug networks that are harnessing the anonymity and accessibility of social media apps to push deadly drugs into American communities. During the surge, DEA and law enforcement partners seized more than 1,500 pounds of fentanyl and over eight million fake prescription pills. The seizures were directly linked to at least 46 overdoses and 39 overdose deaths.
At least 76 of the cases involved drug traffickers using social media applications, including Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube; and, 32 cases have direct ties to the major Mexican drug networks that are mass-producing and distributing fentanyl. Of the total fentanyl seized in 2021, much of it was in the form of fake prescription pills. In 2021, DEA seized a staggering 20.4 million fake prescription pills.
“Mexican criminal drug networks are harnessing the perfect drug trafficking tool: social media applications that are available on every smartphone. They are using these platforms to flood our country with fentanyl. The ease with which drug dealers can operate on social media and other popular smartphone apps is fueling our Nation’s unprecedented overdose epidemic,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said.
DEA officials warn that criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing deadly fentanyl and fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills, using chemicals sourced largely from China. These fake prescription pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions — such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax® and other medicines — and have been found in every state in the country.
In September, the DEA issued its first Public Safety Alert in six years to warn the public about the alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fake prescription pills in the U.S. These fake prescription pills often contain deadly doses of fentanyl. DEA has determined that four out of ten DEA-tested fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl — an amount that is considered to be a lethal dose.
From Sept. 29-Dec. 14, 2021, DEA agents throughout Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin seized 183 pounds of fentanyl and approximately 68,250 fake prescription pills, in addition to 16 guns seized and 40 arrests conducted during the course of their investigations.
Since Aug. 3, 2021, DEA agents throughout Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin have arrested 62 individuals and seized 236 pounds of fentanyl (including 145,000 counterfeit pills), 29 guns, and over $647,000 in U.S. currency as part of the efforts targeting the trafficking of fentanyl and counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl.
“Seizing large amounts of fentanyl throughout the DEA’s Chicago Division reflects our commitment to keeping families safe, and bringing to justice drug traffickers who inflict harm on our communities,” said Robert Bell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Division.