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Fentanyl-Laced Counterfeit Pills Spike Accidental Overdoses, Deaths

Publish Date 03/08/2022
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KCPD’s Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) warns parents about an ongoing, sharp rise in accidental overdoses and deaths among young people from consuming counterfeit medications laced with fentanyl.

The counterfeits resemble oxycodone 30mg pills, often stamped M30. Instead, they are laced with fentanyl which is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Regional data shows that from 2019 to 2020, there was a 149% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths in the Kansas City metro area.

Counterfeit pills with fentanyl also mimic Xanax, Adderall, and other prescription medications. Fentanyl can also be added to substances like marijuana, which can cause adverse reactions.

The DEU reports that large quantities of these deadly pills are arriving in the Kansas City area on a weekly basis. It also wants parents to know that these counterfeits can arrive by mail or carrier, purchased online by teens and young adults. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), distributors use social media to sell these pills because these apps appeal to a younger audience. Additionally, drug traffickers target young kids and teens by creating pills in a variety of shapes and bright colors.

According to the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Kansas City metro reported the greatest increase (68%) in Missouri for all drug overdose deaths for ages 15-24 between 2019 and 2020. It also revealed that the greatest at-risk age group was ages 15-24, followed by 35-44.  The next most at-risk age group was 25-34.

In February, Kansas City joined the DEA’s new “Operation Overdrive,” which is, in part, focused on identifying overdose “hot spots” and dismantling drug networks in these areas.

KCPD encourages parents to talk to their children about the real dangers of taking pills not prescribed to them.