DEA warns against colorful synthetic drugs aimed at luring young people

The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public against circulating brightly colored fentanyl in the United States.

The “rainbow fentanyl” was seized by agents in 18 different states this month alone, according to a DEA press release.

The administration believes the colorful narcotics are intended to appeal to children and young people because they look like candy.

Fentanyl m30 rainbow pills. (DEA)

“Rainbow fentanyl – fentanyl pills and powder available in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes – is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to create addiction in children and young adults. “, said Anne Milgram, administrator of the DEA.

RELATED: ‘Rainbow Fentanyl’ Seized in Portland, Drug Spreading West Coast: Officials

The fentanyl seized by officers comes in the form of colored powder, pills and even blocks that look like sidewalk chalk, the DEA said.


Rainbow fentanyl inside a plastic bag. (DEA)

There have been claims that certain colors have higher fentanyl potency, however, the administration said lab tests showed no evidence of this.

“The men and women of the DEA are working tirelessly to stop the rainbow fentanyl trade and defeat the Mexican drug cartels who are responsible for the vast majority of fentanyl trafficked to the United States. United States,” Milgram added.

RELATED: Police warn parents that ‘rainbow fentanyl’ is heading to the Pacific Northwest

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DEA.

The pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for the treatment of pain in cancer patients and applied in a patch on the skin. But due to its powerful opioid properties, it has helped fuel the country’s drug overdose epidemic.

The CDC estimates that in 2021, more than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. About 66% of these deaths were linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

In 2021, the United States suffered more fentanyl-related deaths than gun and automobile-related deaths combined, the DEA said.

“Fentanyl poisonings are at an all-time high,” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead, South Dakota’s Drug Enforcement Committee chairman, said in a statement. “These are not isolated incidents. They are happening in every state and county in America, leaving behind grieving families.”

Milstead added that the fentanyl poisonings “are part of a strategic move by the cartels and must be stopped.”

The DEA said it is working diligently to trace the massive overdose events back to local drug trafficking organizations and international cartels responsible for increasing the domestic supply of fentanyl.

Nationwide, the DEA seized nearly 2,000 pounds of fentanyl and one million fake pills in the first three months of 2022.

“Last year, DEA agents seized more than 15,000 pounds of fentanyl, four times the amount seized in 2017, enough to kill every American,” the agency said.

Kelly Hayes contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.

Alvin J. Chase