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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 4, 2019

DEA Issues Warning over Counterfeit Prescription Pills from Mexico

Portland, Maine: U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank joined the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in alerting the public to dangerous counterfeit pills killing Americans. Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid that is lethal in minute doses, for distribution throughout North America.

Based on a sampling of tablets seized nationwide between January and March 2019, DEA found that 27 percent contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.

“Capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States, drug trafficking organizations are now sending counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in bulk to the United States for distribution,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “Counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.”

Fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids remain the primary driver behind the ongoing opioid crisis, with fentanyl involved in more deaths than any other illicit drug. 

“Buying drugs from street dealers is deadly especially when fentanyl is disguised as a real pharmaceutical,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “The DEA and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners stand committed to taking deadly fentanyl off the streets of New England and ensuring those who manufacture and traffic these lethal pills are held accountable to the communities and families they damage with this poison.”

A lethal dose of fentanyl is estimated to be about two milligrams, but can vary based on an individual’s body size, tolerance, amount of previous usage and other factors. The full Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program Report on the recent drug sampling and testing is available here: https://go.usa.gov/xp2dJ.

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Prescription Drugs
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Craig M. Wolff Assistant United States Attorney Tel: (207) 780-3257
Updated November 4, 2019