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Justice Department seizes 10 million fake fentanyl pills

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Bureau of Prisons headquarters in Washington, D.C. on August 2. He said the DEA seized more than 10 million illegal pills in a five-month operation this year. File Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/5a9beec6871363956537e1032017ddee/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Bureau of Prisons headquarters in Washington, D.C. on August 2. He said the DEA seized more than 10 million illegal pills in a five-month operation this year. File Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Federal agents seized about 10 million fentanyl-laced pills and 82 pounds of fentanyl power in more than 100 investigations over the past five months that touched all 50 states, the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Agency said.

The 129 investigations were linked to social media platforms, including Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and TikTok, building upon the Justice Department's One Pill Can Kill Phase II results, authorities said in a news release Tuesday.

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"Across the country, fentanyl is devastating families and communities, and we know that violent, criminal drug cartels bear responsibility for this crisis," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

"The Justice Department, including the extraordinary professionals of the DEA, is working to disrupt and dismantle the operations of these cartels, remove deadly fentanyl from our communities, and save American lives."

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The operation resulted in 390 cases, including 51 cases linked to overdose poisonings. It said 35 cases were linked directly to one or both of the primary Mexican cartels responsible for the majority of fentanyl in the United States -- the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

"The most urgent threat to our communities, our kids, and our families are the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG who are mass producing and supplying the fentanyl that is poisoning and killing Americans," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.

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"The Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG are ruthless, criminal organizations that use deception and treachery to drive addiction with complete disregard for human life. To save American lives, the DEA is relentlessly focused on defeating the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG by degrading their operations to make it impossible for them to do business."

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The DEA said 107,622 deaths were due to drug poisoning or overdose with 66% of those deaths attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Drug traffickers have expanded their inventory to sell fentanyl in a variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes. "Rainbow" fentanyl was first reported to DEA in February 2022 and it has now been seized in 21 states.

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