‘Every parent’s worst nightmare’: Rainbow fentanyl pills resembling candy are found in a LEGO box as DEA warns how ‘drug cartels are pushing into new markets by targeting children’
- Fentanyl packaged like candy and placed into LEGO boxes was found in the back of a car being driven in Manhattan
- Latesha Bush, 48, from Trenton, New Jersey, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance
- Officers stopped a vehicle that contained 15,000 multicolored pills
- The pills were imprinted with ’30 M’ to resemble 30mg oxycodone pills, usually prescribed to treat severe pain after an operation or a serious injury
- Rainbow fentanyl began showing up on the streets on the West Coast in February and has gradually made its way across the country
- It was first reported to DEA in February 2022, and it has now been seized in 21 states across the country
- Multicolored pills are similar looking to party drugs and are meant to be more appealing so Mexican cartels can cultivate a new market among younger people
Investigators have arrested a New Jersey woman after she allegedly transported around 15,000 rainbow fentanyl pills into New York City with many of them hidden under blocks of LEGO.
‘These pills are hidden in pretty much anything imaginable. Traffickers are very innovative,’ DEA agent Frank A. Tarantino III said.
‘This newly packaged poison is the cartel’s way of attracting new customers. This is calculated, it is deliberate, it is treacherous deception to make Rainbow fentanyl look like candy. This is every parent’s worst nightmare.’
Federal law enforcement officers say the pills were made in various rainbow colors and looked just like candy.
So far, there have been few, if any, reported instances of any child receiving fentanyl under the guise that it is candy either by mistake or on purpose.
Fentanyl packaged like candy and placed into LEGO boxes was found in the back back of a car being driven in Manhattan
The pills were imprinted with ’30 M’ to resemble 30mg oxycodone pills, usually prescribed to treat severe pain after an operation or a serious injury
‘This newly packaged poison is the cartel’s way of attracting new customers. This is calculated, it is deliberate, it is treacherous deception to make Rainbow fentanyl look like candy. This is every parent’s worst nightmare,’ DEA agent Frank A. Tarantino III said
Latesha Bush, 48, from Trenton, New Jersey, was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.
She was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday with bail set at $25,000.
Prosecutors say Bush was carrying what appeared to be a black tote bag wrapped around a large object as she entered a vehicle in front of 475 10th Avenue in Manhattan.
Upon stopping the vehicle, agents and officers allegedly found Bush in the rear seat, with two black tote bags and a yellow LEGO container also in the rear seat.
Inside the LEGO container were several brick-shaped packages covered in black tape lying next to LEGO blocks.
The black tape covering one of the packages had been partially opened, exposing multi-colored pills inside. A subsequent examination of the packages revealed they contained approximately 15,000 pills.
During the investigation, agents and officers learned that just prior to her arrest, Bush had travelled from New Jersey in a rental car. Agents and officers also learned that the multi-colored fentanyl pills allegedly originated in Mexico.
New York City’s narcotics prosecutor said the seizure comes as an estimated one person dies from an overdose every three hours.
‘Overdose deaths are at a record high and 80% of them are related to fentanyl,’ special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan said.
‘It is critically important to educate the public on this new form that fentanyl is taking across the country and yes, we know it is here in New York,’ she added.
The drugs were found concealed inside a children’s yellow LEGO box in the back of a car
Some of the drugs were wrapped in black plastic as they were confiscated by Drug Enforcement Agents
‘Using happy colors to make a deadly drug seem fun and harmless is a new low, even for the Mexican cartels. If you take any drug sold on the street or through the internet, regardless of its medicinal markings or festive appearance, you risk your life.’
‘Disguising fentanyl as candy – and concealing it in children’s toys – will never hide the fact that fentanyl is a deadly poison that harms our communities, our families, and our city,’ said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell.
Prosecutors say Mexican drug cartels manufactured the pills stamped to look like oxycodone.
The Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel are mass-producing fentanyl pills in rainbow colors to not only brand their products but use colors and dyes to mimic candy or other legitimate prescription drugs.
The seizure is the largest to date in New York City and signals a more widespread distribution of these dangerous colorful pills.
These substances are extremely powerful and it only takes a small amount to kill someone.
‘The lethality of fentanyl, we are talking two milligrams. That is the amount of fentanyl that can fit on the tip of a pencil. It’s approximately 10 to 20 grains of salt,’ Tarantino said.
Investigators say 40% of the pills analyzed contain a lethal dose and in a recent 15-week operation, the state seized 500,000 lethal pills in several busts across New York.
Prosecutors are urging parents to speak to their children about the dangers of these colorful, deadly pills.
During the period from May 23 to September 8 this year, 10.2 million fentanyl pills and about 980 pounds of fentanyl powder were seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of the One Pill Can Kill initiative.
Of the 390 cases investigated during this period, 51 cases have been linked to overdose poisonings and 35 cases link directly to one or both of the primary Mexican cartels responsible for the majority of fentanyl in the United States – the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
Of the 107,622 Americans who have died from drug poisoning or overdose in 2021, 66 percent (approximately 71,030) are attributed to fentanyl.
Rainbow fentanyl was first reported to DEA in February 2022, and it has now been seized in 21 states across the country.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, or the amount that could fit on the tip of a pencil, is considered a potentially lethal dose.
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