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Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego

John W. Callery, Special Agent in Charge

November 04, 2019

Contact: Kameron Korte

Phone Number: (571) 324-6204

DEA issues warning over counterfeit prescription pills from Mexico

SAN DIEGO The Drug Enforcement Administration is alerting the public of dangerous counterfeit pills killing Americans. Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid that is lethal in minute doses, for distribution throughout North America.


Based on a sampling of tablets seized nationwide between January and March 2019, DEA found that 27 percent contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.


“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 DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “Counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.”


In October, the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force released its 2018 Report Card which indicated that there were 92 fentanyl-related deaths in San Diego County in 2018.  In 2019, there have already been 92 fentanyl-related deaths in San Diego County.


“Ninety Two. Say that number out loud. That’s how many of our neighbors in San Diego County have died from a fentanyl drug overdose so far in 2019,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers. “That is 92 too many. The game has changed. Fentanyl is a killer and your drug dealer or best friend are the murderers. Drug dealers put fentanyl in heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and in that little blue pill you think is an Oxy 30. Fentanyl doesn’t care how old you are, where you live, your gender or your race.It will take you down no matter your tax bracket or school district.” Flowers further stated “DEA sample testing of counterfeit pills confirmed that at least one in four pills tested contained a LETHAL amount of fentanyl. Are you willing to gamble with your life for one in four odds of dying? Don’t give up. You have a choice. Drug treatment is a choice. If you or someone you know needs help to stop using drugs, call 211 and talk to someone or go to www.optumsandiego.com to get help to save a life; maybe your own.”


The San Diego County Access & Crisis line and website (listed above) are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 


Fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids remain the primary driver behind the ongoing opioid crisis, with fentanyl involved in more deaths than any other illicit drug


A lethal dose of fentanyl is estimated to be about two milligrams, but can vary based on an individual’s body size, tolerance, amount of previous usage and other factors. The full Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program Report on the recent drug sampling and testing is available on the DEA.gov website.

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