The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a nationwide warning over what it’s referring to as “rainbow fentanyl,” which as the name implies, is brightly colored and appears to resemble hard candy.
Some colorful chunks might look like taffy. Other pieces could even look like sidewalk chalk.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet, of the Jacksonville DEA office, says it’s no coincidence the drug is made to look less dangerous.
“It’s obviously a marketing scheme to drive addiction in a different age group, and it’s all about the cartels making more money,” Dubet said
We first got a look at it a year ago when News4JAX was given exclusive access inside a DEA lab where seized narcotics are analyzed.
Despite claims that certain colors of fentanyl might be more potent than others, scientists at the DEA lab who have analyzed fentanyl samples say specific color does not dictate potency. This means every color, shape and size of fentanyl sold on the streets should be considered dangerous.
According to the DEA, the overwhelming majority of fentanyl being smuggled into the U.S. comes from both the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel - also known as CJNG. Both cartels are based in Mexico but have operatives in the U.S. that distribute their drugs to street dealers.
But the people who are buying these drugs are rolling the dice every time they consume these items.
“This isn’t drugs killing you over a long period of time. This is one use,” Dubet explained. “One pill that can leave you dead. That’s how serious this is. This is the No. 1 drug threat we have faced as a country.”
According to the CDC, more than 107,622 Americans died in the U.S. last year from a drug overdose. The CDC says 66% of those deaths were linked to fentanyl. Drug poisonings are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.
Federal agents say if you encounter any form of fentanyl or a substance you suspect is fentanyl, do not touch it. Call 911 immediately and allow law enforcement to safely collect it.
“Rainbow fentanyl—fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes—is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a prepared statement. “The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States.”