With Halloween near, DEA cautions parents after authorities find fentanyl disguised as Skittles and Nerds

With Halloween near, DEA cautions parents after authorities find fentanyl disguised as Skittles and Nerds
Parents are being urged to get educated on fentanyl as thousands of pills were found in Skittles and Nerds packets (Photo via CT US Attorney's Office)

Experts believe that an opioid that caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans in 2021 was discovered concealed in candy wrappers and may be sold to young children on social media. According to the DEA, drug traffickers are now offering fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin, in a wide range of vivid colors, forms, and sizes.

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is encouraging parents to be cautious in light of a recent seizure in Connecticut when 15,000 fentanyl tablets were discovered concealed in packs of Skittles and Nerds. With Halloween just weeks away, a former specialist said, "This is not a drug issue, it's a mass poisoning." The organization has strongly cautioned parents to educate themselves as children go out trick or treating.

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Parents are being urged to get educated on fentanyl as thousands of pills were found in skittles and nerds candy packets, as children gear up to go trick or treating this Halloween (Photo via CT U.S. Attorney's Office)
Parents are being urged to get educated on fentanyl as children gear up to go trick or treating this Halloween (Photo via CT U.S. Attorney's Office)

The DEA's One Pill Can Kill initiative resulted in the seizure of 10.2 million fentanyl tablets and about 980 pounds of fentanyl powder from May 23 to September 8. Altogether 35 of the 390 instances probed during this time have been directly linked to one or both of the two main Mexican cartels that provide the majority of the fentanyl in the US, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, with 51 cases being related to overdose poisonings (CJNG).

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Additionally, 129 investigations have been launched on social media sites including TikTok, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Snapchat. According to Attorney General Merrick B Garland, the substance has had a terrible influence on the neighborhood. 

"Across the country, fentanyl is devastating families and communities, and we know that violent, criminal drug cartels bear responsibility for this crisis," Garland said, adding, "The Justice Department, including the extraordinary professionals of the DEA, is working to disrupt and dismantle the operations of these cartels, remove deadly fentanyl from our communities, and save Americans' lives."

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DEA dministrator Anne Milgram stated that tackling the fentanyl epidemic has been a top priority. "The most urgent threat to our communities, our kids, and our families are the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG who are mass producing and supplying the fentanyl that is poisoning and killing Americans," said Milgram. "The Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG are ruthless, criminal organizations that use deception and treachery to drive addiction with complete disregard for human life.To save American lives, the DEA is relentlessly focused on defeating the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG by degrading their operations to make it impossible for them to do business."

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According to Derek Maltz, a former director of special operations for the DEA, it's critical for parents to understand the risks that narcotics pose to children. "We're seeing an unprecedented amount of kids dying as young as 13 years old and we know now, the DEA says, that 40 percent of the pills contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl," he said. "[Parents] have to be proactive. Its deadly fentanyl, and it's flooding our streets like we've never seen. This is not a drug issue, it's a mass poisoning."

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A total of 66% (or around 71,030) of the 107,622 Americans who died from drug toxicity or overdose in 2021, was due to fentanyl. Since February, when rainbow fentanyl was first reported to the DEA, it has been found and confiscated in 21 different states throughout the country. A potentially fatal dose of fentanyl is thought to be as little as two milligrams, or about the size of the tip of a pencil.

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