By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – With tweens and teens spending more time online and school out for the summer, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning parents that drug dealers are using social media to target their children and sell them illicit drugs.
Her warning comes as the U.S. Drug and Enforcement Agency is set to host its first ever Family Summit on the Overdose Epidemic on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In a new video published online, Ms. Moody warns that “drug dealers are using social media to sell dangerous drugs. We call them digital dealers.
“They are using some of the most popular apps to target children. They push prescription opioids but often deliver counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl instead.”
Two milligrams of fentanyl, the size of a mosquito, is enough to provide a lethal dose to a grown adult. It’s 100 times more potent than morphine.
“The scary part is users have no idea what they are taking,” Ms. Moody said. “Too many parents have found out too late that just one pill can kill.”
To help parents educate their children about the dangers of fentanyl, Ms. Moody’s office published a free toolkit as well as information about the emerging threat of Nitazenes.
Digital dealers are targeting minors primarily through four major social media apps: TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, Ms. Moody warned. They are also using certain emojis to communicate with minors about drugs, including ones that look like pills and candy.
“Certain emojis that we have uncovered in our investigations show that drug traffickers and our youth are using emojis to communicate regarding drugs, buying drugs and trying to obtain drugs,” Deanne Reuter, special agent in charge of the DEA-Miami division, said.
The DEA has published an Emoji Drug Code to help parents identify the emojis most often used to communicate with minors about drugs.
For example, the universal emoji representing drugs is a Maple leaf, it says.
Emojis for Percocet and Oxycodone are often red and yellow pills, blue pills, a “P” and a banana; for Xanax, a red and yellow pill, banana, and a bus; for Adderall, a red and yellow pill, and the letter “A” with a robot figure. Meth emojis include a crystal ball, blue heart, blue diamond; heroin, a brown heart and green dragon; MDMA and mollies, a red heart, lightning bolt, among others.
Cocaine emojis include a snowflake, snow, snowman, 8-ball, a key and others. Marijuana emojis range from a puff of smoke to different types of trees to a flame or four-leaf clover.
Dealer advertising often includes money bag or money symbols, and electric cord emojis. Emojis also indicate how potent a drug can be.
The DEA’s Family Summit on the Overdose Epidemic, starting Tuesday, includes representatives from over 80 parent or family-led non-profit groups. The summit aims to create a dialogue to affect change through awareness and prevention.
“We know that there are more families and parent groups impacted by the overdose epidemic who won’t be represented at the summit but we want to connect with you,” the DEA said in posts on its social media channels. Parents are also encouraged to register with the DEA “to join us as advocates for change.”
“Drug-related deaths are plaguing the nation and killing Americans at an unprecedented rate,” DEA Adminstrator Anne Milgram said. “Last year alone, nearly 108,000 lives were lost to a drug overdose, with fentanyl and methamphetamine driving this record increase. We can’t – we won’t – tolerate this as normal. It’s simply not acceptable.
“Illicit drugs are more accessible and available than ever before; anyone with a smart phone or internet connection is a target of the drug cartels.”
Ms. Moody has sued the Biden administration several times over its open border policies, arguing they are emboldening the Mexican drug cartels who are flooding the southern border with illicit drugs, which are now in nearly every city in all 50 states in the U.S.
DEA-Denver Chief Brian Besser is also encouraging parents to “be involved. I’ve never had a parent tell me ‘I regret being in my kid’s business, but they have told me they regret NOT being involved.’”