CHICAGO - The DEA Chicago Division seized 24 kilograms of fentanyl, including 77,000 counterfeit fentanyl pills, made 22 arrests and seized 13 guns throughout Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin as a part of a nationwide law enforcement effort to address the alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fentanyl-laced fake pills.
The DEA launched the nationwide effort on Aug. 3.
Over the past two months, the DEA, working with federal, state and local law enforcement partners, seized a total of 1.8 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and arrested 810 drug traffickers in cities, suburbs and communities across the U.S., authorities said.
"This important enforcement action holds cartels and local drug distributors accountable for the devastation they have inflicted throughout the DEA Chicago Division," said Robert J. Bell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Division. "DEA will continue to work alongside our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, as well as with federal prosecutors, to bring those to justice who cause suffering by trafficking deadly counterfeit fentanyl pills."
According to the DEA, it seized enough deadly fentanyl-laced fake pills during this effort to kill more than 700,000 Americans.
Additionally, 712 kilograms of fentanyl powder, which is enough to make tens of millions of lethal pills, were also seized, along with 158 weapons, 4,011 kilograms of methamphetamine and 653 kilograms of cocaine.
In the past year, the DEA seized over 9.5 million potentially deadly fake pills, which is more than the last two years combined.
"Illicit fentanyl was responsible for nearly three quarters of the more than 93,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States in 2020," said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. "The pervasiveness of these illicit drugs, and the fatal overdoses that too often result, are significant threats to public safety and health in this country. The Department will continue to use all of the resources at its disposal to save lives, complementing strong enforcement efforts with public awareness and outreach campaigns, as well."
According to authorities, Mexican criminal drug networks are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced fake pills and distributing them through U.S. criminal networks.
The fake pills appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax® and other medicines.
Criminal drug networks are selling these pills through social media, e-commerce, the dark web and existing distribution networks, the DEA said.
DEA laboratory testing revealed that four out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake pills contain a potentially lethal dose. Additionally, the number of fake pills containing fentanyl has jumped nearly 430 percent since 2019.
The DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill campaign to inform the American public of the dangers of fake prescription pills.
For more information, visit DEA.Gov/onepill.