8 million fentanyl pills seized in Arizona during 4-month DEA operation
PHOENIX – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency on Wednesday announced the seizure 10 million-plus fentanyl pills, the vast majority in Arizona, during a just-completed enforcement operation targeting the dangerous synthetic opioid.
The DEA said more than 10.2 million fentanyl pills and approximately 980 pounds of fentanyl powder were seized from May 23 through Sept. 8 as part of the nationwide One Pill Can Kill initiative.
Authorities in Arizona were responsible for seizing more than 8 million of the pills, including batches in various colors that resemble candy.
“On the frontline as we race to save lives, DEA Arizona continues to seize historic amounts of deadly fentanyl,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Cheri Oz said in a press release. “It is terrifying that the drug cartels are mimicking candy to make fentanyl appear harmless.”
First reported in February, the rainbow pills have been seized in 21 states now, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. While fentanyl is still more commonly blue to resemble oxycodone or another prescription drug, the candy-colored pills are on the increase.
“We believe it is being marketed and aimed at young people,” Milgram said.
In all, the recent enforcement surge took enough fentanyl off the streets to make up 36 million potentially lethal doses, DEA said. Hundreds of weapons were also seized.
The DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill campaign a year ago to increase public awareness about the threat of fake pills that could be laced with fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.