Drug Cartels Targeting Kids and Teens with Rainbow Fentanyl

rainbow fentanyl pills
(Drug Enforcement Administration photo)

Large quantities of so-called “rainbow fentanyl” have been found in 21 states as Mexican drug cartels ramp up smuggling efforts, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies have seized the illicit drug in multiple forms including pills, powders, and blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk, the DEA reported.

The DEA says that criminal drug operations in Mexico — the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel — are the primary source of illegal fentanyl coming into the United States.

Drug cartels are preying on young people.

Brightly colored fentanyl pills that look like Smarties candies are meant to be more appealing to children and teens so the cartels can cultivate a new market. Drug traffickers even give their products candy names like “Sweet Tarts.”

And just last week, investigators arrested a New Jersey woman after she allegedly transported around 15,000 multicolored fentanyl pills into New York City with many of them hidden inside LEGO boxes.

“This is another tactic that they’re using to get more fentanyl to more people,” said Milgram. “The more drugs they can sell, the more addiction they drive, the more profit they make.”

Maricopa County (Arizona) Attorney Rachel Mitchell concurs. “Cartels are really disguising the drugs. They look like candy, they’re rainbow colors. We know somebody could innocently take them and we know two out of five pills that are going across our border have lethal doses in them.”

Just one pill can kill you!

According to the DEA, the synthetic opioid fentanyl – whether brightly colored or white or added to cocaine and other substances or used alone – is by far the deadliest drug threat in America right now.

Fentanyl is a highly addictive drug that’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal drug overdoses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And we know now, the DEA says, that 40% of the pills contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. That’s like playing Russian Roulette with your life if you ingest even just one small pill.

“Every color, shape and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous,” warns the DEA.

Fentanyl pills are not only deadly, they are easy to mass produce.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said that the drugs are made with chemicals from China – and they’re manufactured in large quantities.

“We’re seeing not just a few pills, we’re seeing people come into our country with hundreds of thousands of pills,” Mitchell said.

In September 2022, Phoenix police found more than one million fentanyl pills in the single largest fentanyl bust in the department’s history.

Rainbow Fentanyl is coming to a city near you.

Rainbow fentanyl first began turning up in states along the U.S.-Mexico border, but the substance is now common across the country, according to Department of Justice and U.S. Customs and Border Protection news releases and news reports.

In Oregon, authorities recently found and seized 92,000 fentanyl pills from inside a vehicle.

In Connecticut, officials seized 15,000 pills disguised as candy.

Rainbow Fentanyl Nerds

The drugs were literally stashed inside Skittles and Nerds packaging!

Drug dealers are targeting kids on social media.

Derek Maltz, former DEA special operations director, explained to host Ainsley Earhardt on “Fox & Friends” that cartels are selling the drugs on social media platforms.

Sales are increasingly happening over TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, Placer County (California) District Attorney Morgan Gire said in a news release.

The kids that are being targeted, Maltz noted, may not know any better. “We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of kids dying as young as 13 years old,” he said.

“This newly packaged poison is the cartel’s way of attracting new customers,” said DEA agent Frank A. Tarantino III. “This is calculated, it is deliberate. It is treacherous deception to make Rainbow Fentanyl look like candy.”

Rainbow Fentanyl is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Maltz urged all parents to educate themselves on the nationwide fentanyl crisis.

He also encouraged parents to seek out educational materials from the DEA and other non-profits to know how to warn their children as Halloween approaches.

Parents must have open and honest conversations with their children about how deadly fentanyl can be. Children need to be told not to converse with strangers on social media, and how to develop an “exit strategy” if they’re ever offered drugs.

“When we were in the room with the fentanyl families, the families that have lost loved ones, I was stunned when they said that they wished they’d talked to their kids in elementary school,” Milgram told NBC.

“Stay away from it because it’s poison. It really is dangerous,” he said. “It’s deadly fentanyl, and it’s flooding our streets like we’ve never seen.”

Maltz advised concerned parents to open any suspicious candy packaging and notify police if drugs are found.

Don’t Do Drugs!

The U.S. saw synthetic opioid deaths jump from 6,000 in 2015 to more than 63,000 in 2021, with fentanyl being the biggest contributing factor.

The CDC’s latest provisional data shows that 109,000 people in the U.S. died of a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending in March 2022. That’s a 44 percent increase compared to 76,000 drug overdose deaths for the same period ending in March 2020.

Dealers may also mix fentanyl into low-purity heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Someone may unknowingly buy fentanyl and ingest a toxic amount. NO DRUG IS SAFE!

“This is not a drug issue, it’s a mass poisoning,” Maltz said.

“We’re losing a future generation — 300 a day.”

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