DEA warns counterfeit pills from Mexico making way to US

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Images of counterfeit pills believed to be laced with the lethal drug fentanyl. Credit: Drug Enforcement Administration.

Street drugs are becoming deadlier. They look like prescription drugs, but they are actually counterfeit and contain the deadly drug fentanyl, which can kill if a user takes just a small amount.

The fentanyl crisis is an issue nationwide, and it’s putting people in hospitals locally like at Lee Memorial. Doctors told us it’s common to see three patients daily from drug overdoses, and they don’t want counterfeit pills to make matters worse.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says counterfeit pills containing lethal fentanyl are being distributed by Mexican drug cartels throughout the United State and North America.

”There’s a lot of overdoses,” said Phill Mullen with Cape Coral Police Department. “There’s a lot of deaths, unfortunately.”

With mass quantities of fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl, some fear the national crisis will become worse in the United States.

“I know people that have lost loved ones to the whole drug epidemic,” said James Kommer in Cape Coral.

Kommer’s son is a police officer in New York. He sees fentanyl and other deadly opioids on the streets.

“He’s ‘Narcanned’ a number of individuals to bring them back,” said. “That were dead and actually brought them back.”

The DEA says 27 percent of these counterfeit pills come from Mexico, and they could have high enough doses to kill someone.

CCPD said it’s the risk that comes with buying any drugs on the street.

“Unless you’re lab testing that for what’s in it, you don’t know what you’re taking,” Mullen said. “And you could get yourself killed.”

Pharmacist TJ Depaola of Cypress Pharmacy in south Fort Myers said it’s a cheaper route for drug dealers.

“What drug dealers want is repeat customers,” Depaola said. “The more they come back, the more they tell their friends, the more they tell their friends, the more money they’ll make.”

Another pharmacist we spoke to said they aren’t worried about counterfeit pills at their business. They said no one would find them anywhere that sells prescription drugs legally and safely.

But police say this is a great topic for parents to remind kids about the dangers of buying drugs on the street.

“It’s extremely dangerous, something we don’t want to see here,” Mullen said.

MORE: Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program Report

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