The current fentanyl crisis is a major issue in communities all across the United States – communities of every type, cultural affiliation, and socioeconomic status. The DEA’s Washington Division has been taking a proactive approach to this issue in the Nation’s Capital – partnering with their federal, state, and local partners, community groups, and businesses to get the word out about what fentanyl is, where it comes from, how it’s being marketed to unsuspecting victims, and what you can do to keep your family and neighbors safe from this deadly drug.
Do you know the basics of what fentanyl is? Check out the DEA Fact Sheet
Throughout 2022, DEA Washington Division Special Agent in Charge, Jarod Forget, has joined area leaders and partners in addressing the shocking increase in illicit fentanyl across local communities, the new trends officials are seeing with this deadly substance, and more in-depth information on how residents can keep their families safer.
STOPPING THE FLOW OF FENTANYL
One major topic that the DEA Washington Division is addressing head-on, in the wake of record overdose deaths across the Nation, is why it’s so difficult to cut off the flow of illicit fentanyl in our communities.
Illicit fentanyl (or fentanyl that is being made in clandestine labs by drug trafficking organizations) is currently driving the overdose epidemic in the D.C. metropolitan region, and across the United States. Fentanyl is a different type of drug threat. It is synthetic – meaning, it‘s manmade from chemicals. Currently, those chemicals are largely sourced from China and used by Mexican drug cartels to mass produce, often on an industrial scale, fentanyl.
Unlike cocaine and heroin, which come from plants that have a growing season and a limited production timeframe, fentanyl can be made on demand and in a seemingly unlimited supply by ordering chemicals and mixing them together in labs. It is easier to make, easier to obtain, and easier to transport and mix in any drug. Cutting off the flow of this type of drug is a completely different challenge.
Moreover, just two milligrams, a minuscule amount, of this drug can be, and often is, deadly. That amount is so small, that it’s akin to just a few grains of table salt – an amount that fits on the tip of a pencil.
Miniscule quantities of fentanyl are incredibly potent, addictive, and deadly. Our agents say they have never seen a drug this dangerous, and available on such a large scale.
HOW FENTANYL IS MARKETED
A major issue contributing to fentanyl-related drug overdoses, is the way that illicit fentanyl is being marketed in local communities. With overwhelming consistency, the DEA is seeing fentanyl in cities across the U.S. pop up, mixed into many other typical street drugs (such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine), as well as in well-produced fake (or counterfeit) prescription pills.
Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) are mass producing these pills in Mexico, using professional-level pill presses, just like pharmaceutical manufacturers. This allows them to produce pills that look just like the real thing – often, DEA personnel cannot tell the difference without a laboratory test. DTOs are producing fake pills that look like real oxycodone, hydrocodone, Percocet, Adderall, Xanax, and other popular drugs. They bring them into the United States and falsely advertise them, marketing these pills as real pharmaceuticals, to unsuspecting victims.
The biggest problem with these incredibly deadly counterfeit pills is that they are dangerous drugs being marketed aggressively to young adults and kids online.
At the end of last year, the DEA found that over 2 out of every 5 pills analyzed at their laboratories contained a deadly amount of fentanyl. That’s an almost 50% chance that if someone takes one of these counterfeit pills, they could die.
DEA’s ‘ONE PILL CAN KILL’ CAMPAIGN
The DEA Washington Division has been working hard to get the word out about this – to protect local communities, neighbors, loved ones, and kids.
One way they have been able to do this is through the DEA’s new “One Pill Can Kill” campaign – a public awareness initiative, formed to educate the public of the terrible danger of counterfeit pills. The DEA is using social media, traditional media, and business partnership avenues to try to bring awareness to this issue, so they can help keep people safe from these deadly drugs.
The DEA Washington Division is working to get the word out that just One Pill Can Kill – in order to save lives. Urging all Americans to take only medications prescribed by their own medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.
Education and prevention saves lives. Having these conversations with your kids and loved ones is vital. The research is clear that when parents talk to children, drug use goes down by half. There are children, young adults, and even some older Americans who don't understand these risks. Let your loved ones know that this is not an experimentation issue – it is a life-or-death issue. Only one pill can contain enough fentanyl that it can kill you. One pill, one time, is all it takes.
This is a new threat, so people shouldn't be expected to know it. The DEA Washington Division is working hard with its area partners to combat major drug trafficking organizations and prevent the use of these drugs by helping you stay informed.