The arrests of three high-school students in San Luis for possession of fentanyl pills is a microcosm of what is fueling the nationwide opioid overdose crisis.

For years, DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads focused on the pharmaceutical and medical industries. Arizona enacted stricter controls; limiting prescription opioids for first time patients, mandatory participation in prescription monitoring programs, and educating the medical industry on opioid addiction

The reduction in available “legal” pain medication allowed drug cartels to fill the void. The CDC reported U.S. prescription drug overdoses reached a record 72,000 deaths in 2018. What is disturbing, over half the opioid overdose deaths were from fentanyl, a synthetic heroin manufactured in China.

Fentanyl laced pills, sourced in China and smuggled across the Southwest border by Mexican drug cartels; supply millions addicted to prescription pain medications. Unaware of the risks, they’re purchasing counterfeit fentanyl pills disguised as a legitimate low-level pain medication. Oftentimes, the results are deadly. Despite this epidemic; there are proposals to “legally” allow foreign prescription medications to be imported and sold in the U.S.

Pharmaceutical drugs are the most counterfeited item in the world, an estimated $200 billion industry. The FDA’s strict oversight and controls; ensuring Americans receive safe, uncontaminated pharmaceutical medications, don’t apply to foreign pharmaceutical companies. Based on our counterfeit opioid drug crises, it’s important to “know your source” when it comes to your medication. Beware of advertisers offering large discounts on foreign prescription drugs; and be skeptical of any proposals to “legally” allow foreign importation of prescription drugs into the U.S.

Douglas Hebert (DEA retired), Fountain Hills

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