When I was younger, there always seemed to be frightening stories (real or imagined) about folks finding needles and razor blades in candy collected by children on Halloween night. But now parents may face a bigger fear… is the candy their children taking home actually candy?
These days, fentanyl-laced drugs are taking shape in colorful tablets that look like candy. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently advised the public of an alarming emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States. Late this past summer, “the DEA and its law enforcement partners seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states. 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.”
We wrote about this latest criminal craze in August (This Colorful Sweet Treat Could Be Deadly) and mentioned that a Maine news station reported that law enforcement there seized green and purple candy-shaped pills containing methamphetamine and fentanyl. According to the report, the pills were shaped like candy or vitamin-like alien heads and hand grenades. Also in March, a middle school student in Georgia was suspended after bringing drug-laced candy known as “medicated Skittles” to school. Last year a bag of candy shaped like gummy bears was seized. According to the OnlineAthens article, “suspects melted Jolly Ranchers candy and fused it with fentanyl, then shaped it in a mold similar to gummy bears. The candy was then hardened and repackaged in the Jolly Rancher wrappers.”
We saw another example just this past month in New York when approximately 15,000 candy-colored fentanyl pills were seized in Manhattan. The DEA noted: “The fentanyl pills, in various colors, were destined for distribution throughout New York City and had been concealed in a LEGO box to deter law enforcement attention. The fentanyl pills were also imprinted with “M” and “30” to resemble “30 M”, Oxycodone Hydrochloride 30 mg pills.” In fact, during a recent 15-week enforcement operation, DEA New York seized half a million lethal pills. That’s one state alone.
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, abused for its intense euphoric effects. The Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division fact sheet on Fentanyl notes that the drug “can serve as a direct substitute for heroin in opioid dependent individuals. However, fentanyl is a very dangerous substitute for heroin because it is much more potent than heroin and results in frequent overdoses that can lead to respiratory depression and death.”
Police departments and first-responders utilize handheld narcotics analysis technology to identify suspected narcotics in the field as a presumptive test, and protect their officers from being harmed. These tools can identify key drugs of abuse such as fentanyl, numerous fentanyl analogs including carfentanil, as well as the precursors, NPP and ANPP. Once a substance is analyzed, full results are automatically stored for reporting. Law enforcement can even scan directly through plastic or glass for most drug test samples to minimize contamination, reduce exposure and preserve evidence.
We don’t want to frighten you this Halloween season, but just be aware of any “unusual” candy you may see on the streets. And luckily, the latest narcotics analyzers are now used by law enforcement in all 50 states in the US, and 50 countries worldwide, to help allay concerns about the unknown (substance).
- Click on the news article links throughout the article to see images of the candy-shaped drugs.
- See other narcotics identification solutions on our Safety/Security web pages.