- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Federal officials are warning the public about what they call “rainbow fentanyl,” a brightly colored version of the powerful opioid intended to target younger users.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said Tuesday that they seized rainbow fentanyl in 18 states in August alone. The drug is delivered in multiple forms, including in multicolored pills, powder or blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk.

“Rainbow fentanyl … is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in a press release. “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.”

Ms. Milgram told CBS earlier this month that the synthetic opioid is believed to be coming from two cartels in Mexico — the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. The cartels are buying the “precursor chemicals” from Chinese companies and bringing them to Mexico where they produce large batches of the drug.

“Those cartels are acting with calculated, deliberate treachery to get fentanyl to the United States and to get people to buy it through fake pills, by hiding it in other drugs, any means that they can take in order to drive addiction and to make money,” she told CBS on Aug. 19.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon reported two “notable seizures” of rainbow fentanyl in the Portland metro area last week. Federal prosecutors in West Virginia also said that they recovered a “large batch” of the multicolored opioids in Morgantown earlier this month.

Other places rainbow fentanyl seizures have occurred are in California, D.C. and at the Arizona-Mexico border.

Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, the DEA said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66% of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The DEA said that drug poisonings are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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