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Tag: opioids

DEA Issues First Public Safety Alert in Six Years As Counterfeit Pills Flood the Market

By Steve Neavling

The DEA on Tuesday issued a rare warning about mass-produced counterfeit pills containing lethal doses of fentanyl that have been linked to fatalities. 

The public safety alert was the agency’s first in six years. 

According to the alert, more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. 

Lab testing found that the pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. 

Criminal drug networks are manufacturing the pills, which look like real prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydocodone, alprazolam, and amphetamines such as Adderall. 

“Across our five state Division, we’ve seen a staggering influx in counterfeit pills,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said in a news release. “This is not an East Coast or West Coast problem, but one that the entire nation is facing. We’re seeing these pills in our own Midwestern communities. By raising awareness to this alarming trend, we’re hopeful that we can save families the heartache of losing a loved one. Every life is precious and we want to prevent as many people as possible from making a choice that has permanent repercussions.”

Most of the counterfeit pills are produced in Mexico and brought to the U.S. 

More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year, and the “primary driver of this alarming increase” is fentanyl, the DEA said. 

CBP Officers Save Life of Woman Who Overdosed on Drugs, Border Agency Says

By Steve Neavling

Customs and Border Protection officers are credited with saving the life of a young woman who appeared to be overdosing on an opioid. 

Two men carried the semi-conscious woman to the pedestrian lanes at the Douglas Port of Entry in Arizona on Sunday evening. While a supervisory CBP officer notified the Douglas Fire Department, a CBP-trained medic administered two doses of Narcan. 

Within one minute, the woman gained consciousness. She said she suspected someone had slipped her an unknown narcotic in Mexico. 

Firefighters transported her to a local medical facility. 

“This incident highlights the compassion of our officers, and the effort they put forth to keep the residents of our bi-national communities safe,” said Douglas Area Port Director Jeffrey A. Wilson. “Travelers should be mindful with whom and with what they interact while they are outside the United States.

It’s just the latest example of CBP officers coming to the rescue. 

On July 31, an off-duty Border Patrol agent saved a man from a burning car in metro Detroit.

Also in July, an off-duty agent from the El Centro Sector helped thwart a carjacking in what the agency called a “heroic act.”

In the same month, an off-duty Border Patrol agent in San Diego detained a man who was slashing a knife through the air while approaching bystanders.

Border Patrol Seizes Record Amount of Fentanyl in Tucson Sector

Synthetic opioid tablets

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents have seized a record amount of fentanyl in the Tucson Sector.

So far in fiscal year 2020, the sector seized 57 pounds of the synthetic opioid, which is more than four times the amount seized last fiscal year, KTAR News reports.

Agents this week busted an 18-year-old Nevada woman smuggling more than 8 ounces of fentanyl at the Nogales Port of Entry.

“Really, it was a line of questioning and agent intuition which led to the person admitting that she was carrying these narcotics,” Agent Joe Curran said. “We’re just happy that this had the safest resolution for the person who was smuggling those narcotics, and there was no contamination to those agents or anybody.”

At least 32 fentanyl-related deaths have been reported by the Pima County Health Department.

DEA’s ‘Take Back Day’ Removes Prescription Pills – and vaping devices – from Circulation

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Law enforcement agencies across the country will host the DEA’s Take Back Day on Saturday to help the public dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs.

The idea is to help prevent pill abuse and theft by allowing people to anonymously drop off drugs.

It’s the 18th event in nine years. In the previous events, law enforcement officials collected a total of 11.8 million pounds of pills.

“The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue,” the DEA says. “According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.”

For the first time, people can drop off their marijuana vaping devices.

“Concerns have been raised across the United States over illnesses and death caused by vaping and the high youth vaping initiation rates,” a DEA media release states. “In an effort to support a healthy lifestyle and energetic population, especially amongst America’s youth, DEA is committed to doing all it can to help safely dispose of vaping devices and substances.”

To find a drop-off site, click here.

DEA Gets Serious about Studying Marijuana for Its Medical Values While Crack Down on Opioids

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The DEA is proposing to increase the amount of marijuana that can be legally grown for research by 30% in 2020, a promising sign for cannabis advocates who have long insisted the plant has healing properties.

Under the plans unveiled Wednesday, the DEA has called for 3.2 million grams of cannabis to be manufactured for scientific studies to determine the medical value of marijuana

“This will meet the need created by the increase in the amount of approved research involving marijuana,” DEA said in a press release. “Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent, from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019.”

The DEA also is proposing to reduce the amount of Schedule II opioids that can be manufactured in the U.S. next year. The DEA wants to reduce the amount by 31 percent, hydrocodone by 19 percent, hydromorphone by 25 percent, oxycodone by nine percent and oxymorphone by 55 percent.

“The aggregate production quota set by DEA each calendar year ensures that patients have the medicines they need while also reducing excess production of controlled prescription drugs that can be diverted and misused,” Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a statement. “DEA takes seriously its obligations to both protect the public from illicit drug trafficking and ensure adequate supplies to meet the legitimate needs of patients and researchers for these substances.”

For decades, marijuana has been illegal because it was listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means researchers believe it has no medical value. More substantial research could change that.

Numerous states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, despite a federal law making it illegal.

Feds Consider Classifying Fentanyl As Weapon of Mass Destruction

File photo of pills laced with fentanyl.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Fentanyl is so toxic and lethal that the Department of Homeland Security is considering classifying it as a weapon of mass destruction.

The powerful opioid was responsible for 30,000 overdose deaths in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The new designation would authorize customs officials and the FBI to inspect more shipments and develop detection tools, The Times reports. Prosecutors also would have more leverage in their fight against the opioid crisis.

Earlier this year, customs officials in Nogales found 254 pounds of fentanyl hidden among cucumbers inside an 18-wheeler. It was the largest fentanyl seizure ever recorded at a port of entry.

Federal Strike Force Busts Dozens of Medical Professionals for Illegal Opioid Prescriptions

FBI Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess is joined by partner agency officials at a press conference in Cincinnati to announce charges against 60 defendants. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A team of federal investigators and prosecutors made its largest bust to date against illegal opioid prescribers, including dozens of pharmacists, nurse practitioners, doctors, and other medical professionals.

The Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force, which was formed in October, operates in Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Knoxville, Memphis, and Birmingham to take down illegal opioid prescribers in areas hardest hit by the crisis. On Wednesday, the announced charges against 60 defendants, most of whom are medical professionals.

“Using the strike force model, we have now focused our resources on a region of the country which arguably has suffered the most from egregious prescription opioid diversion schemes,” FBI Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess said at news conference Wednesday in Cincinnati, where the charges were announced.

A news release said the medical professionals were “essentially acting as their patients’ drug dealers.”

“The ARPO strike force is going after doctors who act like drug dealers,” said FBI Criminal Investigative Division Health Care Fraud Unit Chief Steven Blaum. “Our focus is on the doctors because the sheer volume of pills they can prescribe can have a significant impact on their communities in terms of access to illicit opioids. By removing just one bad doctor, we can stop the addiction cycle before it starts.”

2 DEA Agents, 8 Sheriff’s Deputies Taken to Hospital for Fentanyl Exposure in Ohio

File photo of pills laced with fentanyl.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Two DEA agents and eight sheriff’s deputies were taken to a hospital in Ohio early Wednesday after they were exposed to the powerful opioid, fentanyl.

The agents and Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s deputies were raiding a home in Rocky River around 5:30 a.m. when they came in contact with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an increasing danger to law enforcement as more drug dealers use the potentially lethal opioid to make heroin and painkillers more potent.

The deputies and agents were examined and determined to be OK, Cleveland.com reports

During the raid, two young children were at the home, where one man was arrested.