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DEA warns Michiganders of 'rainbow' fentanyl targeting kids and young people

The DEA has seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states including Michigan.

DETROIT — It comes in bright colors and looks like candy, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says it's actually rainbow fentanyl pills and powder.

With Halloween coming up, the DEA - Detroit Division wanted to get the message out now that drug traffickers are deliberately marketing the drug towards children and young people.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin.

Dr. Michael Vizachero, an addiction specialist at Spectrum Health says a majority of new patients at their Community Medicine Clinic have fentanyl present in their system.

"It's responsible for over 90% of the opiate-related deaths in Kent County so it's a huge issue," said Vizachero.

The DEA has seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states including Michigan, however, because of open investigations they can't say specifically where the drugs have been seized. 

"90% of fentanyl seized stateside is coming from Mexico. Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and Sinaloa cartels." 

Vicki Kavanaugh, a TalkSooner Initiative prevention specialist encourages parents to talk with their kids about rainbow fentanyl.

"The way you're going to talk to your three-year-old is not the way you're going to talk to your 13 or 18-year-old, but really the message we want to get across is, any type of pill, the only one, is something a parent or doctor has given you."

The health system is doing what it can to curb the opiate epidemic and find solutions.

"We have partnerships with the Red Project," said Vizachero. "We extended our reach from downtown Grand Rapids to satellite clinics in Muskegon, Lakeview and recently Greenville. We're looking to expand more regionally and incorporate more telehealth."

Greene says the DEA will continue their enforcement efforts working with local and state partners as well as education efforts.

"You literally never know. One pill can actually kill," said Greene.

In September 2021, the DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill Public Awareness Campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of fake pills.  

Additional resources for parents and the community can be found on DEA's Fentanyl Awareness page.

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