MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Federal officials say counterfeit pills are flooding the illegal drug market in Minnesota.
The Twin Cities office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says agents have recovered about 46,000 counterfeit pills during the first seven months of the year — that’s nearly four times the amount seized in all of 2019.
The drugs are primarily coming to Minnesota via Mexican drug cartels. These counterfeit pills are dangerous and contribute to a significant number of overdose deaths, officials say, noting that they contain substances such as fentanyl.
The DEA says that a sampling of seized tablets from across the country showed that more than a quarter of pills contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.
“There is no quality control in these counterfeit pills,” said Richard Salter Jr., the DEA’s special agent in charge at the Omaha Division, in a statement. “Drug trafficking organizations do not employ scientists or use professional laboratories to create these deadly pills…A lethal dosage of fentanyl is two milligrams, equivalent in size to a few grains of salt, as compared to a lethal dose of heroin at 30 milligrams. Each time someone takes a counterfeit pain pill, they are playing Russian roulette with their life.”
The most common counterfeit pill found in Minnesota is an illegal substitute for oxycodone, the DEA says. The pill is known as an M30 for its distinctive marking.
Counterfeit pills are sold in Minnesota on the black market and through the dark web. Many look almost identical to their pharmaceutical counterparts, such as Xanax.
However, officials say there’s no concern of counterfeit pills entering the legitimate drug prescription supply chain.