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Hamilton County coroner, DEA warn against counterfeit pills, fentanyl-laced drugs

“You don’t know what you’re gonna get, and it could be something deadly.”
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 12:42 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Hamilton County Coroner and the Cincinnati District DEA held a press conference Friday to discuss counterfeit pills and warn youth against purchasing drugs online that could be laced with fentanyl.

Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco said she believes there isn’t enough attention on counterfeit pills that are laced with fentanyl.

“This is not a minor thing,” said Sammarco. “This could explode into a huge epidemic problem if we don’t try and get to these young people and get the right message to them.”

Sammarco said that in the last decade, Hamilton County has seen 4,176 overdose deaths. She added that there are now almost four times as many overdose deaths as traffic deaths in any one year.

The latest contribution to these overdose deaths is fentanyl-laced drugs.

Sammarco said that crime lab cases submitted by CPD have involved fake oxycodone, Adderall, Xanax and meth that are laced with fentanyl.

These pills are designed to look identical to prescription pills, and Sammarco said that without being tested in a lab, it is extremely difficult to tell the difference.

“You don’t know what you’re gonna get,” said Sammarco, “and it could be something deadly, and it does not take much.”

According to Joe Reder, the Resident Agent of Cincinnati’s DEA office, the DEA seized 15,000 pounds of fentanyl in the last year.

The amount seized equates to 440 million lethal doses of fentanyl, which Reder said is enough to kill every single person in the United States.

Reder added that through the “One Pill Can Kill” campaign, the DEA has seen a trend of using emojis to order illegal drugs online.

Joe Reder of the Cincinnati DEA says there is a trend in using emjois to order illicit drugs...
Joe Reder of the Cincinnati DEA says there is a trend in using emjois to order illicit drugs online.(WXIX)

Some emojis are being used as a code to purchase the illicit drugs, Reder said.

Reder and Sammarco emphasized the importance of talking to kids about purchasing drugs online.

“We’re aiming for thousands of lives saved [from this press conference],” said Sammarco.

She added that parents should be aware of it, look for it and try to prevent it.

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