Counterfeit Drug Circulation Kills American Ghosts

Americans warned to be on the lookout for counterfeit prescription tablets suspected of containing strong opioids fentanyl and stimulants methamphetamine. The circulation of counterfeit tablets is associated with a number of deaths from consumers who are not aware of the dangers.

In a warning issued for the first time in six years, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said international and domestic criminal networks had mass-produced these counterfeit tablets, and marketed them as legal prescription drugs.

“These counterfeit tablets contain dangerous substances and are highly addictive and deadly and easily accessible,” DEA representative Anne Milgram said at a news conference in Washington.

The notice was published last week after the DEA announced it had seized more than 1.8 million counterfeit tablets in a two-month undercover operation and had arrested more than 810 people.

Demonstrators march in front of Philadelphia city hall, on May 16, 2019. They gather to raise awareness of the dangers of dying from drug overdose.  (Photo: AP/Matt Rourke)

Demonstrators march in front of Philadelphia city hall, on May 16, 2019. They gather to raise awareness of the dangers of dying from drug overdose. (Photo: AP/Matt Rourke)

In a statement, the agency also said it had seized more than 9.5 million potentially lethal tablets in the past year.

Fentanyl caused nearly 75 percent more of the lethal drug overdoses (cases) in the US by 2020,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

US health officials report fentanyl has caused nearly 70,000 overdose deaths.

The production of the counterfeit tablets, according to US investigators, is mostly made in laboratories in Mexico using chemical elements imported from China.

DEA suspects Chinese businesses are shifting away from producing fentanyl into content export for synthetic opioids sent to drug cartels in Mexico which then produce fentanyl illegally.

US officials are now seeking cooperation from Mexican law enforcement agencies to halt operations to manufacture the illegal drug in the country. (jm / ka)

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