With New Jersey kids about to head back to school, the Drug Enforcement Administration is warning parents about a deadly new danger their children could face.

According to Susan Gibson, special agent in charge of the DEA in New Jersey, Mexican drug cartels are now producing a specific type of fentanyl that’s been dubbed rainbow fentanyl because it’s designed to catch the attention of young people.

“They’re basically taking fentanyl pills and they’re making them multi-colored, so they look more like candy and they can attract more of a user base, focusing on the younger clientele," she said.

She said during recent fentanyl seizures, “we’ve seen different colors, multi-colored rainbow colors, we’ve seen it in pill form, powder form and block form that look’s like the chalk (you write with) on the driveway.”

Gibson said drug organizations are all about making as much money as possible so they need to “increase their client base, and one of their ways is to take a product and make it look more attractive to younger kids. The purpose is to attract new users every day.”

GettyImages Motortion
GettyImages Motortion

How many of these pills pose a risk?

Gibson said that an extremely small amount of the opioid fentanyl, equal to about 12 grains of table salt, can be lethal.

“There’s no understanding of how much is in what product versus another product, accepting the fact that there’s fentanyl in all of this product and that it only takes 2 milligrams to kill you, they’re all deadly," she said. "That’s how they need to be treated.”

She stressed that “deadly consequences for any kind of consumption of these pills in any form because you just don’t know how much fentanyl is in those pills, it’s all deadly.”

She said this follows a recent pattern of fentanyl being found in almost all illicit drugs being sold on the street.

Talk to your kids about drugs

The DEA website has a drug identification feature that parents can use.

Gibson said parents should explain to their kids that if they get pills in a prescription from their family doctor “that is a safe product, anything you get on the street is not safe.”

Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country. According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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