(DEA Press Release, December 20, 2022)
WASHINGTON – As 2022 comes to an end, the Drug Enforcement Administration is announcing the seizure of over 50.6 million fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder this calendar year. The DEA Laboratory estimates that these seizures represent more than 379 million potentially deadly doses of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat facing this country. It is a highly addictive man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, the small amount that fits on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially deadly dose.
“In the past year, the men and women of the DEA have relentlessly worked to seize over 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl from communities across the country,” said Administrator Anne Milgram. “These seizures – enough deadly doses of fentanyl to kill every American – reflect DEA’s unwavering commitment to protect Americans and save lives, by tenaciously pursuing those responsible for the trafficking of fentanyl across the United States. DEA’s top operational priority is to defeat the two Mexican drug cartels—the Sinaloa and Jalisco (CJNG) Cartels—that are primarily responsible for the fentanyl that is killing Americans today.”
Most of the fentanyl trafficked by the Sinaloa and CJNG Cartels is being mass-produced at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely from China. In 2021, the DEA issued a Public Safety Alert on the widespread drug trafficking of fentanyl in the form of fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills. These pills are made to look identical to real prescription medications—including OxyContin®, Percocet®, and Xanax®—but only contain filler and fentanyl, and are often deadly. Fake pills are readily found on social media. No pharmaceutical pill bought on social media is safe. The only safe medications are ones prescribed directly to you by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.
Just last month, DEA alerted the public to a sharp nationwide increase in the lethality of fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills. DEA laboratory testing in 2022 revealed that six out of ten fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. This is an increase from DEA’s announcement in 2021 that four out of ten fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills contain a potentially deadly dose.
In 2022, DEA seized more than double the amount of fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills that it seized in 2021. DEA also seized nearly 131,000 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 4,300 pounds of heroin, and over 444,000 pounds of cocaine. DEA is now providing a regularly updated counter at http://www.dea.gov to track approximate amounts of fentanyl pills and fentanyl powder seized by DEA.
DEA has created a Faces of Fentanyl memorial to commemorate the lives lost from fentanyl poisoning. To submit a photo of a loved one lost to fentanyl, please send their name, age, and photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a photo and their name to social media using the hashtag #JustKNOW.