Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl flood Michigan drug market — and it could be deadly – Detroit Free Press

Authorities in Michigan seized 218 pounds of illicit fentanyl in powder and pills last year, an incredible increase compared with the 68 pounds seized in 2020, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
But it’s the pills that pose an especially big threat right now because they are increasing in availability and flooding the drug market, according to Kent Kleinschmidt, acting special agent in charge of the DEA’s Detroit division.
Nationally, the DEA seized more than 20 million counterfeit pills in 2021 — which was more than it seized in 2020 and 2019 combined. Roughly 40% of counterfeit pills contain enough fentanyl to be potentially deadly, the DEA said.
“If you don’t have a prescription … and you don’t purchase these pills from a licensed pharmacy, you’re playing Russian roulette,” Kleinschmidt said.
In July 2020, two Rochester Hills brothers — ages 18 and 20 — and a 17-year-old Rochester Hills girl died after ingesting pills that were laced with fentanyl. A fourth person overdosed but survived. He is in prison now for providing the pills that killed the young people.
More: There’s a new, extra-potent meth invading metro Detroit — and it’s more deadly
More: Fentanyl: 12 questions about the hidden drug that’s killing people every day
Because of the vast infiltration of counterfeit pills, the DEA is trying to raise awareness of their danger with its One Pill Can Kill campaign. 
But methamphetamine is also a growing concern. Last year, the DEA seized roughly 1,000 kilos of meth in Michigan and Ohio, Kleinschmidt said. The new methamphetamine is ultrapotent and has caused a rise in overdose deaths, though fentanyl remains responsible for most overdose deaths.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Contact Georgea Kovanis: gkovanis@freepress.com.

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