ST. LOUIS – The Drug Enforcement Administration's St. Louis Division says fake pills like Xanax and Oxycontin are being trafficked into the St. Louis-area and can be deadly when consumed.
“Basically, we're seeing the Mexican cartels have been mass-producing counterfeit pills,” said Special Agent in Charge Bill Callahan.
Callahan says the pills are made primarily with fentanyl. They are addictive, cheaper to produce, and leading to overdose deaths.
The DEA gave Fox 2 an exclusive look in their drug testing center. They only showed us fake pills without fentanyl because they claim fentanyl is too dangerous for exposure.
“This is what we're seeing more recently – pharmaceutical pills made to make them look like legitimate pharmaceutical Xanax and Oxycontin and they’re being distributed to people as Oxycontin or Xanax without their knowledge,” Callahan said.
When the DEA St. Louis division intercepts drugs, most of it is made or laced with fentanyl these days, so they handle it with extreme care while testing it in their lab. The drugs are then disposed of.
Callahan says everyone needs to remind loved ones and friends about the dangers of unknown pills
“If you don’t get prescriptions from your doctor or get it filled at a pharmacist, do not take that pill,” he said.
Callahan says they are getting great intel and forming what he calls security rings around the St. Louis-area. but the cartels are producing massive amounts and working hard.
“All drugs we see on the streets here go back to one of two cartels – the Sinaloa Cartel or CJNG Cartel,” he said.
Callahan also says while counterfeit pills look similar to the real ones, there are indicators on pills that show they are not.