A Newman Police officer’s keen eye led to the arrest of a Denair man who was found in possession of several grams of fentanyl.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on Sunday, Newman Police Officer Jantzen had stopped at a local business in the 1500 block of N Street. As he was headed inside the business he noticed two individuals sleeping or passed out in a vehicle with drug paraphernalia in plain sight.
Officer Freeman came to the scene to assist, and during the course of the investigation it was found that Jose Elizalde, 27, of Denair was in possession of approximately 28 grams of fentanyl and various drug paraphernalia items.
Elizalde was arrested for the charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The arrest comes just a little more than a week after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a safety alert regarding a sharp increase in fraudulent prescription pills with fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The alert, the first from the DEA in six years, seeks to raise public awareness of a significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs, deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.
These counterfeit pills have been seized by DEA in every U.S. state in unprecedented quantities. More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. DEA laboratory testing reveals a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. A deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.
Counterfeit pills are illegally manufactured by criminal drug networks and are made to look like real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall). Fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms – making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.
“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Anne Milgram, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Counterfeit pills that contain these dangerous and extremely addictive drugs are more lethal and more accessible than ever before. In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. DEA is focusing resources on taking down the violent drug traffickers causing the greatest harm and posing the greatest threat to the safety and health of Americans. Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that people have the information they need to protect themselves and their children.”
Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the primary driver of overdose deaths. Drug poisonings involving methamphetamine, increasingly found to be pressed into counterfeit pills, also continue to rise as illegal pills containing methamphetamine become more widespread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year.
“As drug overdoses continue to rise at an unprecedented rate we cannot underscore the importance of this public safety alert enough,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Wade R. Shannon. “Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl have flooded our region. Laboratory testing indicates a dramatic increase in fake tablets containing a lethal dose. Taking a prescription drug not purchased from a licensed pharmacy is extremely dangerous and it may cost you your life.”
The legitimate prescription supply chain is not impacted. Anyone filling a prescription at a licensed pharmacy can be confident that the medications they receive are safe when taken as directed by a medical professional.