(The Center Square) – A new statewide campaign has launched to warn Texans about the dangers of fentanyl, similar to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s “one pill can kill” campaign.
“Fentanyl remains the single deadliest drug threat our state and nation has ever encountered, killing four Texans every day,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “Fentanyl is a clandestine killer, with Mexican drug cartels strategically manufacturing and distributing the drug disguised as painkillers, stimulants, anti-anxiety drugs, and even candy. In the Biden administration’s negligence to address this national security threat, Texas has designated Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and is launching a statewide public awareness campaign to fight the fentanyl crisis in our state.”
Abbott made the announcement with law enforcement at a roundtable in Waco on Monday. He also said the state legislature would consider new laws related to enforcement against and prevention of fentanyl. One law would classify fentanyl as a poison, allowing prosecutors to charge those who distribute fentanyl or drugs laced with fentanyl for murder if it can be proven that the drugs they distributed lead to the death of another person. Another bill would enable the state to make NARCAN more readily available statewide to Texans who may be exposed to fentanyl.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Anne Milgram earlier this year warned federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies about the DEA seeing “a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events involving three or more overdoses occurring close in time at the same location. Many of the victims of these mass overdose events thought they were ingesting cocaine and had no idea that they were in fact ingesting fentanyl.”
“Fentanyl is highly addictive, found in all 50 states, and drug traffickers are increasingly mixing it with other types of drugs – in powder and pill form – in an effort to drive up addiction and attract repeat buyers,” Milgram said. “This is creating a frightening nationwide trend where many overdose victims are dying after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl.”
Fentanyl has become the drug of choice of Mexican cartels that have operational control of the U.S. southern border. The cartels are flooding the country with deadly fentanyl and methamphetamine primarily through the southern border, local, state and federal law enforcement officials in Texas and other states have reported. The precursors are shipped from China to Mexican ports, where cartel operatives make fake opioid pills and lace these and other drugs with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is less expensive to produce than cocaine and heroin because it doesn’t require farms or large facilities. It can be compounded in people’s homes and garages and brought north easily by cartel operatives and foreign nationally illegally entering the U.S. wearing backpacks or stashing drugs inside containers of produce or cargo hidden inside of vehicles.
Fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl are made to look like authentic prescription pills manufactured by pharmaceutical companies only legally available with a prescription from a doctor. More recently, the DEA is warning parents about brightly colored rainbow fentanyl pills that look like candy.
Two milligrams of fentanyl, the size of a mosquito, is lethal enough to kill a grown adult and is 100 times more potent than morphine.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has been warning parents about “digital dealers” using social media to target minors, primarily through TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. In a new video published online, Moody warns, “drug dealers are using social media to sell dangerous drugs. We call them digital dealers.
“They are using some of the most popular apps to target children. They push prescription opioids but often deliver counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl instead. The scary part is users have no idea what they are taking. Too many parents have found out too late that just one pill can kill.”
To help parents educate their children about the dangers of fentanyl, Moody’s office published a free toolkit. The DEA also published an Emoji Drug Code to help parents identify the ones used most often to communicate with minors about drugs.
Last year, nearly 1,700 Texans died from fentanyl. From February 2021 to February 2022 more than 75,000 Americans died from fentanyl-related overdoses. Fentanyl is the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.
In the past year, Texas law enforcement officers through Operation Lone Star have seized over 342 million lethal doses of fentanyl—enough to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States.