Criminals Using Social Media Apps to Flood US with Fentanyl Warns DEA

DEA Surge Against Fake Fentanyl-Laced Prescription Pills
DEA Seizes Enough Fentanyl in 2021 to Provide A Lethal Dose to Every American; Recent DEA Public Safety Surge Results in the Seizure of Over Eight Million Fake Prescription Pills.

As overdose deaths in the United States reach devastating new heights and claim a new victim every five minutes, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which was recognized in the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program for Excellence in Homeland Security, has revealed a direct link between fentanyl-related overdose deaths and criminal drug networks in Mexico.

These criminal groups are harnessing social media platforms to bring drugs laced with fentanyl and fake prescription pills into American homes with one click on a smartphone.

In a Washington, D.C., press conference, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram announced the results of a public safety surge that lasted from September 29, 2021, through December 14, 2021, which targeted criminal drug networks that are harnessing the anonymity and accessibility of social media apps to push deadly drugs into American communities.

(DEA Administrator Anne Milgram hosts a press conference to announce the results of a major drug enforcement surge in the United States to combat the threat of deadly, fake prescription pills on social media and e-commerce platforms. Courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration and YouTube. Posted on Dec 16, 2021.)

DEA officials warn that criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing deadly fentanyl and fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills, using chemicals sourced largely from China.

Courtesy of the DEA
Can you tell the difference? (Courtesy of the DEA)

These fake prescription pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions—such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax®, and other medicines—and have been found in every state in the country.

The DEA issued its first Public Safety Alert in six years to warn the public about the alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fake prescription pills in the United States, in September.

These fake prescription pills often contain deadly doses of fentanyl.

The DEA has determined that four out of ten DEA-tested fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl—an amount that is considered to be a lethal dose.

(Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is launching a campaign, “One Pill Can Kill,” to warn about illegal synthetic pills sold online as prescription drugs. She spoke exclusively with NBC senior national correspondent Kate Snow for NBC News’ One Nation, Overdosed series. “It’s Russian roulette,” she says. Courtesy of TODAY and YouTube. Posted on Sep 27, 2021.)

This public safety surge demonstrates that the United States is facing unprecedented levels of fentanyl in our communities.

In 2021 alone, the DEA has seized 20.4 million fake prescription pills, enough fentanyl to provide a lethal dose to every American.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram
“These fraudulent activities prey on our most vulnerable – those in pain, the substance-addicted, and even the homeless – those who are most susceptible to promises of relief, recovery, or a new start,” says DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. 

During the recent public safety surge, DEA and law enforcement partners seized more than 1,500 pounds of fentanyl and over eight million fake prescription pills, which were directly linked to at least 46 overdoses and 39 overdose deaths.

At least 76 of these cases involved drug traffickers using social media applications, including Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

32 cases have direct ties to the major Mexican drug networks that are mass-producing and distributing fentanyl.

“Mexican criminal drug networks are harnessing the perfect drug trafficking tool: social media applications that are available on every smartphone,” explained DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.

“They are using these platforms to flood our country with fentanyl.”

The DEA Warns that International and Domestic Criminal Drug Networks are Flooding the United States with Lethal Counterfeit Pills. (Courtesy of the DEA)

“The ease with which drug dealers can operate on social media and other popular smartphone apps is fueling our Nation’s unprecedented overdose epidemic.”

The DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill campaign to inform the American public of the dangers of fake prescription pills.

The only safe prescription medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional that you get from a licensed pharmacist. All other pills are unsafe and potentially deadly.

(Fentanyl-Facts/ to learn more about how to talk to your youth about the deadly substance. Courtesy of 3PC – Peoria Primary Prevention Coalition and YouTube. Posted on Sep 22, 2021.)

“This holiday season,” Milgram said, “every parent, family member and friend should take a few minutes to share a simple message: One Pill Can Kill.”

“Know that DEA remains relentless in our commitment to take down the criminal drug networks that threaten the safety and health of American communities.”

For more information, please visit DEA.Gov/onepill.

Drug Enforcement Administration Recognized in 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program

DEA Honored for the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Initiative at 2019 'ASTORS' Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East.
DEA Honored for the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Initiative at 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East.

American Security Today’s Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards is the preeminent U.S. Homeland Security Awards Program, and now in its Sixth Year, continues to recognize industry leaders of Physical and Border Security, Cybersecurity, Emergency Preparedness – Management and Response, Law Enforcement, First Responders, as well as federal, state and municipal government agencies in the acknowledgment of their outstanding efforts to Keep our Nation Secure.

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Thomas Richardson, FDNY Chief of Department; Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, President of NEC National Security Systems; and Richard Blatus, FDNY Assistant Chief of Operations at the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon at ISC East.

AST Honors Thomas Richardson, FDNY Chief of Department; Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, President of NEC National Security Systems; and Richard Blatus, FDNY Assistant Chief of Operations, at the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon at ISC East.

The United States was forever changed 20 years ago on September 11th, and we were fortunate to have many of those who responded to those horrific tragedies join us at the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon.

In the days that followed 9/11, the critical needs of protecting our country catapulted us into new and innovative ways to secure our homeland – which is how many of the agencies and enterprise organizations that are today ‘ASTORS’ Awards Champions, came into being.

Our keynote speaker TSA Administrator David Pekoske delivered a moving and timely address on the strategic priorities of the 64,000 member TSA workforce in securing the transportation system, enabling safe, and in many cases, contactless travel, and more (Be sure to see Interview.)
TSA Administrator David Pekoske addressing attendees at the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon in New York City on November 17, 2021. (Be sure to see AST Exclusive Interview, facilitated by Dr. Kathleen Kiernan HERE.)

Our keynote speaker featured a moving and informative address from TSA Administrator and Vice-Admiral of the United States Coast Guard (Ret), David Pekoske; to our attendees who traveled from across the United States and abroad, on the strategic priorities of the 64,000 member TSA workforce in securing the transportation system, enabling safe, and in many cases, contactless travel.

Commissioner Bill Bratton signing copies of his latest work, ‘The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America,’ at the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon. (Be sure to see AST Exclusive Interview with Comm Bratton, facilitated by Dr. Kathleen Kiernan HERE.)

Legendary Police Commissioner William Bratton of the New York Police Department, the Boston Police Department, and former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department was also live at the event, meeting with attendees and signing copies of his latest work ‘The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America,’ courtesy of the generosity of our 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Premier Sponsors.

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DEA Warns Fake RX Pills Filled with Fentanyl & Meth Flooding US (Videos)