By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — From coast to coast – from California to New York, from Texas to Florida — law enforcement officers are warning parents about rainbow fentanyl pills being hidden in candy boxes ahead of Halloween.
The pills look like candy but are laced with illicit fentanyl intended to kill children and others who ingest them. Two milligrams, the size of a mosquito, is considered a lethal dose.
After a major drug bust at the Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a warning saying, “With Halloween approaching, parents need to make sure they are checking their kids’ candy and not allowing them to eat anything until it has been inspected by them.
“If you find anything in candy boxes that you believe might be narcotics, do not touch it and immediately notify your local law enforcement agency.”
The sheriff’s office issued the warning after its Narcotics Bureau detectives and Drug Enforcement Agency agents seized approximately 12,000 suspected fentanyl pills hidden inside Sweetarts, Skittles and Whoppers candy boxes that a passenger was trying to take on a plane at the Los Angeles International Airport.
In Tampa on Tuesday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and law enforcement officers warned parents about the dangers of rainbow fentanyl ahead of Halloween.
“Halloween can be scary, but nowhere near as scary as rainbow-colored fentanyl that looks like candy and can be lethal in minute doses,” she said. “Whether these drugs are being transported in candy boxes or mixed with other common drugs and sold to unsuspecting users, the threat posed to the safety of kids and young adults is very real.
“Just one pill laced with fentanyl can kill, so parents please talk to your children about the dangers posed by this extremely lethal drug.”
Earlier this month, Florida law enforcement officers seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly half of Florida’s population after they shut down a major drug trafficking operation run by gang members affiliated with Mexican cartels.
Last month, two Maryland men were charged with fentanyl trafficking offenses after selling illicit pills to undercover DEA agents, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut said. Investigators confiscated 15,000 fentanyl-laced pills, many of which were hidden inside numerous Nerds candy boxes and Skittles candy bags.
Earlier this month, DEA agents seized the largest amount of fentanyl to date in New York City – 15,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills hidden in a Lego toy box. Agents said the pills were primarily supplied by two Mexican cartels, the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
“Using happy colors to make a deadly drug seem fun and harmless is a new low, even for the Mexican cartels,” New York narcotics city prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a statement. She said more than 80% of drug overdoses in New York City involve illicit fentanyl.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has designated the two cartels as foreign terrorist organizations and has called on President Joe Biden to do the same.
Fentanyl is pouring through the border “because of President Biden’s open border policies,” Gov. Abbott said. He’s continued to call on the president to close the border, sounding the alarm on the volume of drugs pouring through.
Since the president has been in office, Texas law enforcement working through Operation Lone Star have seized enough lethal doses of fentanyl to kill everyone in the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have seized enough lethal doses of fentanyl to kill 5 billion people.
The DEA also recently said it had seized 36 million lethal doses of fentanyl in operations from May to September nationwide.
Ms. Moody and 17 other attorneys general have called on the president to classify illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
“With massive amounts of fentanyl flooding in from Mexico, we know that deadly drugs are more available,” than they were before, Attorney General Moody warned. She’s urging parents to talk to their children about how dangerous just one pill is: It can kill.Her office has published a range of resources about the dangers of fentanyl, including a Fast Facts on Fentanyl Toolkit to educate parents about digital drug dealers who are aggressively targeting children and young adults on social media apps.