The Drug Enforcement Administration has officially issued a formal warning to the American public concerning the rise of new candy-colored “rainbow fentanyl” pills.
As part of a Tuesday public service announcement, the DEA put out a warning to the American public to be mindful of a new “emerging trend” of overly colorful fentanyl pills that have started to be far more popular and available all over the country. The drug is available as bright, candy-colored pills, powder, and as full blocks that are very similar to sidewalk chalk. The DEA also highlights that drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18-45.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration is advising the public of an alarming emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States,” explained the DEA via its recent press release. “In August 2022, DEA and our law enforcement partners seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states. Dubbed ‘rainbow fentanyl’ in the media, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.”
Back on the 17th of August, officials at the port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, were able to capture well over 15,000 brightly-colored doses of Fentanyl in pill form that was strapped to a person’s leg. The day directly before that one, officials were able to confiscate well over 250,000 of the candy-looking fentanyl pills, along with a total of 11 pounds of methamphetamine and 11 pounds of heroin.
Out in Washington D.C., DEA officials were able to capture many similar-looking pills throughout the last 18 months. The Sherriff’s Office of Multnomah County, Oregon, also discovered several grams of rainbow fentanyl that had been shaped to be hidden as sidewalk chalk recently as well. It was noted by the DEA that fentanyl is normally trafficked via two prime criminal networks, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel.
“Rainbow fentanyl—fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes—is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” explained Anne Milgram, an administrator for the DEA, via a press release from the agency. “The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States.”
Currently, Fentanyl is one of the strongest, and subsequently most deadly, synthetic opioids currently in circulation. It sports a strength that is 50 times more potent than heroin and over 100 times stronger than morphine. Just a two-milligram dose of fentanyl is all it takes to be a lethal dose, which roughly equates to about 10-15 grains of table salt. It is still entirely impossible to tell how much fentanyl is concentrated in any of these particular pill or powder samples. The DEA reported that despite various claims that some of the colors were stronger or in higher concentrations than others, extensive lab testing of them seemed to indicate that there was no relationship between the potency of the drug and its color. “Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous,” expressed the agency.
Data released from the CDC reported that 107,622 Americans died of overdoses throughout 2021, making it the largest number on record.
The DEA has put out instructions for the public to not directly handle anything fentanyl-related but to instead immediately call 911 if any encounters with it should occur.