CRIME

DEA says fentanyl seizure on track to surpass last year’s numbers

Mar 28, 2024, 4:58 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2024, 7:21 am

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s the Drug Enforcement Administration’s greatest drug threat — fentanyl. And more of it is making its way all over the U.S. and Utah.

The DEA said it’s on track to surpass fentanyl seizures from 2023.

“Fentanyl is the most potent drug that we’ve ever faced,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dustin Gillespie. “We’ve seen over the last couple of years, prices used to be $10 to $12 a pill. Now they’re one dollar a pill or less. It just goes to show that our market has been completely saturated and almost an oversupply of fentanyl into the area.”

Last year in Utah alone, Gillespie said the DEA seized more than 664,000 pills, compared to about 450,000 in 2022 and about 100,000 the year prior.

The status of fentanyl seizures in Utah from 2021 to 2023, according to the DEA.

The statistic of fentanyl seizures in Utah from 2021 to 2023, according to the DEA. (KSL TV)

The small blue pill, typically marked with an M on the front and a 30 on the back, is meant to look like oxycodone. However, agents have seen many different marketing techniques. From powers to rainbow-colored pills, Gillespie said some marketing tools are even meant to target kids.

“They’re being stamped with emblems like Tesla and TikTok. We’re seeing fentanyl in pills that are stamped to be like Xanax bars. It’s in every other illicit drug, like meth. We’re seeing fennel in (methamphetamine), in cocaine, in heroin. So, it’s everywhere,” he said

Gillespie said distributors are also engaging with kids on social media like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram.

“No more face-to-face, hand-to-hand exchanges. It’s all being done electronically through these social media applications. And then they’re making payments through Cash App, Venmo, Zelle, those types of things,” he said.

Fentanyl is nearly 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Two milligrams, which is just enough to fit on the tip of a pencil, is a potentially lethal dose.

“And when it’s in a pill form, it looks safe, it looks innocuous. But the reality is that it could be deadly,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie is encouraging parents to speak to their children about the drug, what it looks like, and how deadly it could be.

For more resources, you can go to the DEA’s website.

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DEA says fentanyl seizure on track to surpass last year’s numbers