CLEVELAND (WJW) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration calls it a public safety alert as agents crack down on synthetic drugs that are killing Americans by the tens of thousands.
This week, agents conducted massive raids nationwide, including in Cleveland, confiscating nearly two million fake pills.
The campaign is called “One Pill Can Kill” and the increasing number of Americans dying from opioid overdoses is startling.
There were 93,000 fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2020 and about 75% of them were from fake fentanyl-laced pills.
The DEA provided FOX 8 with video of one of their Cleveland area drug raids this week.
The FOX 8 I-Team captured agents raiding a home on Ida Avenue in Cleveland on Tuesday. This is all part of a massive effort to get illegal and potentially deadly pills laced with synthetic fentanyl off the streets.
“More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized so far this year. That’s more than the last two years combined… The number of fake pills with fentanyl has jumped nearly 430% since 2019,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco during an afternoon news conference in Washington.
“These pills are being sold on social media, on Snapchat, on Instagram, on E-commerce sites, on the dark web and on the street…. They’re made to look nearly identical to real prescription pills… their color, their size, their markings are virtually identical,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.
McNeil, of Hudson, knows the pain of the opioid epidemic all too well. In 2015, his 28-year old son Sam died from an overdose.
“He used that last time and he ended up using with some heroin that was heavily laced with fentanyl. He didn’t stand a chance,” said Greg McNeil.
Sam had been hospitalized for awhile for an injury, but when he could no longer get legal painkillers, he sought out drugs on the street.
Greg hopes sharing his story will help others.
“It didn’t take him long at all to get addicted. In fact, it was just weeks later that he was back in the ER and at that point, he was seeking drugs, additional drugs… His original prescription had run out and he was desperate to get drugs,” McNeil said.
“In eight weeks, the DEA and our partners have seized enough fentanyl pills to kill 700,000 Americans,” said Milgram.
The DEA says since August, they’ve arrested 810 people and confiscated 158 weapons.
The agency says it will continue to use strong enforcement, combined with public awareness and outreach campaigns to save lives.
“We also seized enough fentanyl powder that even using a conservative estimate, that amount of powder, 712 kilograms could be turned into tens of millions of deadly doses of fentanyl,” Milgram added.
The DEA says in 2017, one out of every 10 counterfeit pills sold on the street contained a deadly dose of fentanyl. Now, that number is four out of 10.