South Louisiana’s coroner has warned that deadly counterfeit pills are making America dangerous for teenagers and that fake medications are plaguing his community.
“This is probably the most dangerous time to be a teenager here in America,” Dr. Charles Preston, the coroner in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, told Fox News.
“Teenagers think they’re getting one drug for a party, and unfortunately it can be the last thing they’ll ever do,” Preston added.
His comments come after a 15-year-old in the parish died last week from ingesting several pills, and a 22-year-old died from taking only one pill. In both cases, the pills looked like Percocet (an opiate), according to local reports.
Preston believes the pills may have been laced with fentanyl, although toxicology tests are still being conducted.
“When I see this phenomenon of one pill that kills, that is a super red flag that we’re dealing with counterfeit medications,” Preston told Fox News.
In a statement to local news outlets last week, Preston expressed concern that his community “may be experiencing illicit drug trade that involves intentionally tainted pills.”
“Additionally, we have seen deaths related to ingestion of counterfeit Adderall, Xanax, marijuana, cocaine, and other pain pills. In other parts of the country, fentanyl has even been detected in vape fluid. The number of cases is escalating rapidly, and we consider this to be a pending healthcare emergency.”
Fentanyl Deaths on the Rise
Fentanyl is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain. It is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has previously said that counterfeit prescription pills pose a danger to Americans, and warned of a nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminals and marketed as legitimate prescription pills.
Officials say that drug cartels crossing the southern border are importing fentanyl from China before pressing it into pills and selling them to unaware buyers who are then accidentally overdosing.
In April 2022, the DEA said mass overdose events involving fentanyl were increasing across the country and killing Americans at an “unprecedented” rate.
Between April 2020 through April 2021, for example, an estimated 100,306 people have died as the result of a drug overdose in the United States, and more than 75 percent of those deaths involved an opioid, marking an increase of nearly 28.5 percent year over year.
According to data from the nonprofit group Families Against Fentanyl published in February, fatalities from the drug have more than doubled in 30 states in just two years, while 15 states have seen fatalities more than triple.
Some lawmakers have called out the Biden administration’s failed immigration policies for a surge in fentanyl sales across the country.
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) told The Epoch Times in June that weak border policies allowing illegal aliens with, allegedly, criminal intent to enter the United States are contributing to an increase in fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills circulating on the streets.
“These are not the little families or people that cross the border and go find a border patrol agent to turn themselves in to begin their processing for asylum,” Higgins said. “Instead, I’m talking about the ones that run, which tells me they have bad intentions and are likely plugged into a criminal network.”
From The Epoch Times