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Newtown Police Joins DEA Warning About ‘Rainbow Fentanyl’ Targeting Youths



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As Newtown Police, fire, and medical responders continuously face the possibility of confronting a possible opioid overdose or tragic death, NPD Captain Bryan Bishop is advising residents about the heightened dangers of fentanyl laced counterfeit pills that users may believe are non-opioids.

His advisory comes on the heels of a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warning that brightly-colored “rainbow fentanyl” is creeping into the region, and could inadvertently fall into the hands of younger children.

“This is a dangerous and disturbing trend, whether the illicit manufacturers mix colors into their products to raise brand recognition or market the product to children or new users,” Bishop told The Newtown Bee. “Raising awareness of this issue is an important step toward reducing the risk.”

The DEA is advising the public of an alarming emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States. In August 2022, DEA and our law enforcement partners seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in at least 21 states including Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.

Dubbed “rainbow fentanyl” in the media, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.

“Rainbow fentanyl — fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes — is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States.”

Brightly-colored fentanyl is being seized in multiple forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk.

Despite claims that certain colors may be more potent than others, there is no indication through DEA’s laboratory testing that this is the case. Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose.

Without laboratory testing, there is no way to know how much fentanyl is concentrated in a pill or powder.

Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country. According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66% of those deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Drug poisonings are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. Fentanyl available in the United States is primarily supplied by two criminal drug networks, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

While there has been no official report of “rainbow fentanyl” as of yet in Connecticut, there have been many reports of fentanyl-laced drugs, and Bishop says counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl, but are replicated to look like non-opioid drugs, are an imminent threat.

“The continued adulteration of the illicit drug supply with multiple substances, including fentanyl, creates a dangerous situation for individuals who use drugs, increasing the likelihood of overdosing,” Bishop said. “Fentanyl is being mixed into counterfeit substances purported to be non-opioids, further increasing the risk and likelihood of overdosing by unsuspecting users.”

The increasing risk of overdose is borne out by verified statistics.

There were 518 overdoses among kids ages 14 to 18 in 2010, a level that held fairly steady for a decade. It jumped to 945 in 2020 and 1,146 last year, according to a research letter in Journal of the American Medical Association.

If you encounter fentanyl in any form, do not handle it and call 911 immediately.

A bag of confiscated brightly-colored and deadly “rainbow fentanyl” is displayed in this US Drug Enforcement Administration image. Newtown Police have joined the DEA and numerous other law enforcement agencies warning about this new form of formulating the powerful opioid that is targeted at younger users.
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