Recent mass overdoses in Florida have the Drug Enforcement Administration sounding the alarm.
Overdoses linked to fentanyl have become so prevalent in the Sunshine State that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has come out and publicly urged President Biden to classify illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
“...your own DEA Administrator has called fentanyl ‘the deadliest threat [the DEA] ha[s] ever seen. We need bold action to meet that threat and end it. If treating fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction has the salutary effect of also advancing narcotics control policy, what is the harm in making the declaration,” Moody said in her letter.
This deadly problem is so widespread that the DEA’s campaign slogan “One Pill Can Kill” has an unofficial second line -- “one use can kill.” In other words, not only can a fake pill that contains fentanyl potentially kill someone, but the use of any recreational drug tainted with fentanyl can potentially do the same.
Over the July 4 weekend, 19 people in Gadsen County overdosed on illegal drugs that were believed to have been tainted with fentanyl. Nine people died.
A week ago in Tampa, seven people who used illegal drugs laced with fentanyl were found unresponsive outside a convenience store.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet of the Jacksonville DEA office said that while federal agents continue to go after drug cartels that flood our streets with fake prescription pills, they also have their attention on other tainted drugs that are now showing up at the lab.
“Recreational use drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine that are being laced with fentanyl,” Dubet explained. “Therefore, not only can one pill kill you, but one use can also kill you.”
In addition to finding fentanyl in cocaine and meth, authorities are also finding fentanyl in marijuana.
“It truly is playing Russian roulette whenever recreational drug use is a part of your life,” Dubet said.
According to a DEA intelligence report, China produces fentanyl and then ships the fentanyl to Mexican drug cartels that mix the fentanyl with other drugs before they are smuggled into the U.S. The report also says fentanyl is shipped from China to Canada and then smuggled into the U.S. on a much smaller scale.
Once inside the US, drug traffickers have several ways to deliver their products to any state — including Florida.
“Cars, planes, trains, so any way you can move, drugs are being moved that way,” Dubet said.
And because authorities are seeing an increase in mass overdose cases, parents are being urged to monitor their child’s social media activities more closely. That’s because drug dealers are using social media to offer fake pills laced with fentanyl to children.