NEW YORK (NewsNation) — The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning parents to remain vigilant following the largest “rainbow fentanyl” seizure to date in New York City after a woman was accused of trying to use a Lego box to hide 15,000 pills.
DEA agents said many pills were made to resemble candy or prescription oxycodone inside the children’s toy canister.
Latesha Bush, 48, of New Jersey was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and third degrees through a criminal complaint filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP), the DEA said. She was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday.
The single seizure removed the equivalent of 500,000 lethal doses from circulation in the Empire State, DEA Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division Frank Tarentino said. In the same reporting period, DEA seized the equivalent of over 36 million lethal doses nationally.
Meanwhile, federal agents say that’s hardly enough to cause a dent in the flow of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills now flowing into the country.
The case is part of a broader problem of Mexican cartels’ “most recent tactics to attract the public while deceiving them about the lethal drugs,” according to DEA New York Division. “The Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel are mass-producing fentanyl pills in rainbow colors to not only brand their products but use colors and dyes to mimic candy and/or legitimate prescription drugs.”
Cartels are intentionally marketing the rainbow fentanyl pills to children and teens, and communities across the country are now flooded with them.
Hiding the pills in toys is commonplace, but there’s nothing playful about the rainbow-colored drugs — a dose as small as 2 milligrams can be lethal and one pill can kill a person.
“This treacherous deception to market rainbow fentanyl-like candy — this is every parent’s worst nightmare, especially in the month of October as Halloween fast approaches,” said Frank Tarentino, special agent in charge.
The DEA issued an advisory about the pills in August. Since then, no deaths of children have been linked to the colorful fentanyl pills, but the DEA said parents need to remain alert.