SEATTLE – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported major seizures of counterfeit prescription pills across the country, including right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Over the last two months, over 800,000 pills were seized in an operation targeting two Mexican cartels.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said drug trafficking networks have been using social media to their advantage to work behind the scenes and reach new customer bases.
He said it’s important for parents and educators to be aware of this and raise awareness to teens.
“Our encouragement to the American people is that nobody should take a pill that isn’t from a trusted medical professional and dispensed from a licensed pharmacist. If they are taking a pill that’s from the street or over social media, that, number one, is illegal, and number two, is very dangerous, and three, potentially lethal,” he told FOX 13 News.
Western Washington has seen a troubling uptick in drug crimes in recent years. In September, King County confirmed 217 fentanyl overdoses in 2021, up from a then record-setting 172 in 2020. The spike in overdoses mirrored others across the country, and prompted the DEA to issue a public safety alert.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Western Washington also announced in late September a 275% increase in fentanyl arrests between 2020 and 2021. This included 16 arrests in a multi-state drug distribution ring, where agents seized more than 100,000 fentanyl pills, more than 150 pounds of methamphetamine and close to two-dozen guns. Arrests were made in New York, California, and Washington cities like Kent, Bremerton, Belfair, Spanaway, Tacoma and Port Orchard.
READ MORE: Law enforcement concerned about rise in supply of fentanyl laced pills smuggled in by Mexican cartels
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