21 | NOV | 2019
Mexican cartels distribute deadly counterfeit fentanyl pills in the U.S.

Mexican cartels distribute deadly counterfeit fentanyl pills in the U.S.

05/11/2019
15:59
Reuters
Mexico City
David Alire García & Rosalba O'Brien/REUTERS
-A +A
Mexican drug cartels are making “mass quantities” of fake prescription pills containing the synthetic opioid fentanyl with the intention of selling them to users throughout North America

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Mexican drug cartels are making “mass quantities” of fake prescription pills containing the synthetic opioid fentanyl with the intention of selling them to users throughout North America, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said on Monday.

For years, Mexico’s cartels have diversified into a wide variety of illicit activity, helped by porous domestic law enforcement agencies, as well as long-standing trafficking routes into the United States, their biggest market.

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Meanwhile, opioid deaths in the United States have soared over the last two decades, driving a wave of government-backed efforts to disrupt illegal distribution and treat addicts.

The DEA said that 27% of a sample of counterfeit pills tested in the United States during the first three months of this year contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.

The DEA did not specify what pills were being faked, but photos of what it said it had seized showed mostly blue tablets stamped with the letter “M” on one side, and containing the number “30” on the other, similar to a brand of opioid oxycodone hydrochloride.

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“Capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States, drug trafficking organizations are now sending counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in bulk to the United States for distribution,” the DEA’s acting head Uttam Dhillon said in a statement.

Dhillon added that pills containing fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin cause thousands of deaths every year in the United States.

Every day in the U.S., an average of 130 persons die of opioid overdose, according to government data, that point out fentanyl is involved in more deaths than any other illegal drug.

This synthetic opioid is particularly devastating since it is 50 times more powerful than heroin and only a few milligrams can be mortal.

DEA said a lethal dose of fentanyl is approximately two milligrams, but it varies depending on each body’s size, tolerance, previous consumption, and other factors.

In May, China, which is the biggest fentanyl supplier in the U.S., forbade the chemical analogs of this drug, a decision celebrated by the Trump administration. However, experts have said that the decision could boost the production of this chemical in other places, such as Mexico.

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