DEA issues public safety alert amid surge of counterfeit pills

A bag of assorted pills and prescription drugs dropped off for disposal is displayed during the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day at Watts Healthcare on April 24, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US has seen an increase in drug overdose deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, accelerating significantly during the first months of the public health emergency, including deaths from opioids and counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

A bag of assorted pills and prescription drugs dropped off for disposal is displayed during the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day at Watts Healthcare on April 24, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:53 AM PT – Friday, October 1, 2021

For the first time in six years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a public safety alert after agents arrested more than 800 people and seized 1.8 million counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco and DEA Administrator Annie Milgram announced along with the synthetic pills, 712 kilograms of fentanyl powder and 158 weapons were also seized.

Law enforcement officials were quick to blame social media companies for not doing more to stop the sale of the potentially deadly drugs online, which have become increasingly accessible and affordable especially for young adults.

“They’re being marketed to teenagers. The pervasiveness of synthetic opioids, the low cost and the way criminal drug networks disguise them as legitimate prescription pills really make them particularly dangerous to public safety,” said Monaco.

In just eight weeks, starting Aug. 3, the DEA reportedly confiscated enough fentanyl-laced pills to kill more than 700,000 Americans. Monaco emphasized large amounts of fake pills are being manufactured illegally in Mexico using precursor chemicals supplied by Chinese companies and then sold all over the U.S.

The deputy attorney general hopes to work with both countries to shut down illegal labs producing the illicit drugs after the DEA seized more than 9.5 million fentanyl-laced pills this year, which is more than the last two years combined.

“It’s critical to understand that the fentanyl and the fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills that we seized in this surge are being mass produced in Mexico by the Sinaloa and CJNG drug cartels,” said Milgram. “These are the criminal organizations that we believe are responsible for producing the drugs that are flooding our streets.”

Milgram confirmed she spoke with Mexico’s attorney general in efforts to combat the issue, and remains optimistic in working together to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.

“We’ve had special agents from every single DEA office throughout the United States working on this critical issue and the results of our work show what a critical and urgent problem this truly is,” Milgram stated.

In the meantime, the DEA has now launched nearly 100 investigations and executed more than 60 search warrants to decrease the alarming rate of fake pills flooding into the nation.

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