LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning Tuesday about brightly colored fentanyl pills being distributed across the country.
So-called “rainbow fentanyl” pills mimic other illicit ones, but are made to look like candy and appeal to young people, DEA representatives said in a news release.
Drug cartels are manufacturing Illicit fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50-to-100 times more potent than morphine, and combining it with other drugs. Just a few grains are deadly.
Last year, the DEA launched its “One pill can kill” campaign as a warning. The pills are often blue and have “M” and “30” stamped on them. The rainbow pills have the same markings but are in different colors.
In 2021, 226 people in Clark County died from a fentanyl overdose, the Southern Nevada Health District said. Six of those deaths were children under the age of 18.
“Rainbow fentanyl — fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes — is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” DEA administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement. “The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States.”
Some of the product is manufactured in clandestine labs in Mexico. Others are pressed right in the Las Vegas valley, officials with the DEA’s Las Vegas office previously told the 8 News Now I-Team.
In recent months, DEA agents have pulled thousands of suspected fentanyl pills off Las Vegas valley streets.
Police and prosecutors have charged several young people over the past year with second-degree murder charges in connection with the fentanyl poisoning deaths of other young people.