WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJW) – The Drug Enforcement Administration is linking a rise in U.S. fentanyl-related overdose deaths to criminal drug networks in Mexico.
Officials say these drug networks are using social media platforms to bring drugs laced with fentanyl and fake prescription pills to the U.S.
The DEA targeted these drug networks during a public safety surge from Sept. 29 through Dec. 14.
During that time, the DEA confiscated more than 1,500 pounds of fentanyl and over 8 million fake prescription pills.
According to investigators, the seizures were directly tied to 46 overdoses and 39 overdose deaths. They said at least 76 cases involved drug traffickers using social media platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
Thirty-two cases were linked to major Mexican drug networks that mass produce fentanyl, investigators said.
“Mexican criminal drug networks are harnessing the perfect drug trafficking tool: social media applications that are available on every smartphone,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram during a press conference Thursday. “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.”
The DEA warned that the fake pills are made to look like legitimate prescriptions, including Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Xanax and other medicines.
They launched the One Pill Can Kill campaign to let the public know about the dangers of fake prescription pills. You can learn more about the campaign here.