DEA’s Milgram: Mexican Cartels Mass Producing Deadly Pills, Fueling Opioid Crisis


Drug Enforcement Administration head Anne Milgram on Sunday said the driver of a growing opioid crisis are cartels mass producing pills in Mexico that contain potentially deadly fentanyl.

In in interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Milgram said the influx has lead to 100,000 overdose deaths in 2021.

“The cartels are mass producing these pills in Mexico, mostly, and they’re making them look like they’re real oxycodone, like they’re real hydrocodone, Percocet, Adderall,” she said. “Then they’re bringing them flooding them into the United States and falsely advertised them, marketing them as though they were real pharmaceuticals.

She said the young and old find easy access online.

“You have a teen on Snapchat and an older American who’s looking for pain medicine that they might be able to get cheaper online,” she said. “And they’re finding these pills- Americans believe that they’re getting the actual pharmaceutical pill. They’re not, what they’re getting is fentanyl. And that is why we’re seeing 100,000 overdose deaths this year — 64,000 of those are attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

According to Milgram, the DEA has confiscated 20 million fake pills this year.

“We estimate at the DEA lab that four in 10 of those pills are potentially deadly,” she said. “We’ve taken off 15,000 pounds of fentanyl this year. That is enough potentially lethal doses to kill every single American. We’re focused on tracking those overdose deaths and working back to understand the full network from Mexico to Main Street that is causing harm and is killing Americans.”

Milgram said the threat has heightened because the potentially deadly fentanyl can be brought in by tiny amounts.

“The cartels will do anything to get drugs in, in every way you can imagine,” she said. “We see that coming through the border. We see it coming through ports, through airplanes, through freight services, through parcel delivery services. Fentanyl, tiny quantities are deadly and extremely potent and addictive. So it’s not in years past where someone would have to bring kilos upon kilos into the United States. It is almost miniscule quantities right now. So the threat has changed enormously.”

She also decried how social media has been helping fuel the crisis.

“Drug traffickers are harnessing social media because it is accessible, they’re able to access millions of Americans and it is anonymous and they’re able to sell these fake pills and to lie on those social media sites about that,” she said.

“The minute you open up one of those social media apps, they’re there and they’re waiting,” she added. “They want to make it one click to get drugs into people’s hands. We know what’s happening, and so do the social media companies. In our takedown, 76 of our cases are directly linked to social media websites where there is extensive narcotics trafficking happening.”

She added “the social media companies need to do more.”

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