United States

DEA Officials Warn Parents About Online Sales of Fatal Fentanyl Drugs

DEA officials warn parents to be on the lookout for a suspicious nasal spray that may carry deadly fentanyl drugs

As the country's opioid crisis worsens, the internet is playing a large role in the trade of deadly drugs with sales of fentanyl growing at an alarming rate.

Drug dealers in Southeast Asia are using the dark web to sell fentanyl and synthetic opioids to U.S. drug users, sometimes in the form of a dangerous nasal spray, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Law enforcement officials have noticed a rising trend of arrests and overdoses from drugs being bought online from dealers in China. The shipments arrive on the doorsteps of drug users across the country via the U.S. Postal Service.

In San Diego, California, the biggest threat continues to be opioids coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, but synthetics are being sold to kids over the dark web, according to DEA spokesperson Amy L. Roderick.

"A lot of these drugs are being seized, and they're actually a nasal spray," Roderick said. "So, if you're a parent here in San Diego County, you should be opening any mail that your child gets, and if it's nasal spray that could be something really bad and parents need to be concerned about that."

Utah teenagers Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, both 13-year-olds, died last fall after buying a synthetic opioid called U-47700 or "Pinky" from another teenager who bought it on the dark web. The kids used Bitcoin to make the purchases from a dealer in China.

Bitcoin is an online currency children can access by winning online video games, among other ways.

Deadly dosages of fentanyl can come in the form of a nasal spray, but the drug is also sold as powder, pills and even counterfeit pills fraudulently marketed as prescription Xanax or Oxycontin.

"So, they will take the fentanyl, press it into a pill press and make fraudulent Xanax, hydrocodone and oxycodone, and then sell those on the street to pill seekers who believe they're getting an oxycodone or hydrocodone product. In reality, they're getting a pill that has fentanyl in it," Roderick said.

"The cartels do not care about the fact that they put a lethal dose into one of these pills," added Roderick.

Just a few flakes of fentanyl can be deadly. Their potency makes them perfect for online sales.

Enough fentanyl to get nearly 50,000 people high can be delivered to a person's doorstep in a standard size first-class envelope.

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