‘Rainbow fentanyl’ making its way onto streets, DEA warns

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Disguised to look like candy or other pharmaceutical drugs, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says deadly “rainbow fentanyl” pills are making their way onto the streets.

“In some cases, people have compared them to SweeTarts or Skittles,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad Byerley said.

The DEA says drug cartels are using these pills to target children and young people. One pill can contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.

“We are seeing so many overdoses or poisonings these days of 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds,” Byerley said.

“Anybody who is putting anything in their body that did not come from a pharmacy is playing Russian roulette,” St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said. “But, unfortunately, these days, five of the chambers have live rounds.”

Dr. Preston says in the first seven months of 2022, 69 people died in St. Tammany Parish of a fentanyl overdose.

“We are seeing now new and different fentanyl products that are going to be harder and harder to detect and each one gets more potent and becomes more deadly,” says Dr. Preston.

The DEA says cartel members are operating everywhere, using social media to contact young people who have no idea what they’re getting.

“They resemble something just like you’d get from a pharmacist. They look like Percocet. They look like Xanax. We can’t even tell them apart unless we send them to the lab,” Byerley said.

“A casual observer in a nightclub is never going to be able to tell the difference. Truly, these are poison,” says Dr. Preston.

Byerley says the DEA recently seized “rainbow fentanyl” pills in a New Orleans bust. Four out of 10 of those pills contained a lethal dose of fentanyl, he says.

“Just imagine,,” Byerley said. “Just a little bit on the end of a pencil is enough to kill you.”

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