OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In a release, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Omaha Division urged families to take time to discuss the dangers of drugs with children before a return to school and the peer pressure to try illicit substances that can come with the territory. This comes as a surge in dangerous counterfeit pills sweeps across the country and Nebraska.
“Students can face an enormous amount of peer pressure to try or experiment with substances they are told are safe,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin King said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk with your kids and explain to them how harmful drugs are to their mind and body. The choice they make when asked to experiment could have long-lasting effects and potentially deadly consequences.”
Between 2019 and 2020, the Centers for Disease Control reported a 30% increase in overdose deaths. In 2020 alone, 92,183 people died from overdoses and nearly 61% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Users often encounter deadly doses of fentanyl — a drug that can be lethal when a dose equal to a few grains of salt is consumed — in the form of counterfeit pills.
In 2017, the DEA examined pills containing fentanyl and determined 10% contained lethal doses of fentanyl.
In 2019, it saw a “surge” with 26% of examined pills containing a lethal dose.
In Nebraska and across the country, seizures of counterfeit pills — often marketed as “M30’s, Perc30’s, Blues and Mexican Oxy’s" — are up.
The DEA said, “Pill seizures increased 229% from 2017 to 2020. DEA Omaha Division investigators collected roughly 3,566 pills in 2017 and 11,731 pills in 2020. DEA investigators have seized approximately 26,000 pills in the first seven months of 2021. Several of the 26,000 pills seized this year were distributed through Dark Web vendors who live out of state, but supply clients living across the country, including residents of Nebraska. ”
In addition to counterfeits containing fentanyl, the DEA has seen an increase in pills containing methamphetamine that are sold as common prescription medications like Adderall and Xanax.
“The truth of the matter is that there are some dangerous people pushing dangerous drugs and they don’t discriminate to whom they sell,” King said. “Talk with your family members and warn them about the dangers of taking pills not filled through a legitimate pharmacy and not prescribed to them individually. The conversation may just save their life.”