DEA, KC police warn parents of deadly counterfeit pills responsible for thousands of overdoses

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 7:38 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Counterfeit pills laced with lethal amounts of a deadly drug are killing thousands of Americans daily.

This week, KCTV5 reported the death of Ethan Everly. He was a Northland teen who died of an overdose after taking a pill containing the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The Kansas City Police Department recently reported a 149% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths locally. Kansas City recently joined a DEA campaign targeting hotspots for drug trafficking and related violence called Operation Overdrive.

A lethal dose of fentanyl is considered around 2 mg.

Andree Swanson, a spokesperson for the DEA, said that fake pills containing the substance have become pervasive across the country. That’s largely because they are manufactured in labs and made to look like real prescription drugs such as oxycodone.

“[Manufacturers] can produce as much of it as they want, so it’s highly profitable,” she said.

Swanson said traffickers often market the pills to teens through apps like Snapchat, making it easy for them to find and purchase drugs.

“They can get that pill delivered to their door,” Swanson said. “We’ve heard stories about kids who cut those pills in half and die from it.”

The DEA and other law enforcement agencies have seized a rapidly increasing number of fentanyl-laced products in recent years. A study from the National Institute of Health found that seizures had jumped nearly five thousand percent since 2018.

In March the DEA arrested 25 people on charges related to drug trafficking. In the same month, the KCPD seized a brick of fentanyl officers said “could have killed thousands.”

Swanson said the DEA is also focused on outreach in an effort make parents aware of the pervasiveness of fentanyl and counterfeit pills, as well as their lethal potential.

“We’re trying to talk to as many people as we can, get to the media and warn people,” Swanson said.

Resources for parents: