Rainbow fentanyl poses serious threat to youth, DEA special agent says

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – It’s designed to look like candy, but it’s far from sweet.

It’s deadly.

Commonly known as rainbow fentanyl and made to look like candies such as SweeTarts and Skittles, this drug is targeted at children and other young adults. It can come in a variety of forms, including pills, powder and blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk.

Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent Colin Dickey said those dealing rainbow fentanyl are not concerned with what happens to their customers after the buy it. 

“They don’t care about the safety of the American public,” he said. “They’re in this business – illegal business – to make money and to increase their customer base, too. Once people use a substance like this that’s more potent and creates a stronger high, people continue to go back to that substance because they want to feel like that again if they use it.” 

How potent is it? Fifty times more so than heroin, and 100 times stronger than morphine. 

“Two milligrams of fentanyl is considered a fatal or lethal dose, equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of salt,” Dickey said. “So just try to do that when you go to your house. Take a salt shaker and pour 10 grains of salt in your hand. Every time I do it, I end up pouring 40.” 

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. 

Dickey said in his nearly two decades of experience, he has never seen a threat to public safety like the one fentanyl poses. 

“I did 14 years in Chicago, and our main threats were cocaine and heroin, and I served a three-year tour with DEA down in Bogota, Colombia, where 90 percent of the world’s cocaine is produced and sent to several places, most of which are in the United States, and I’ve never seen a threat like we are facing now,” he said. 

Considering the threat drugs like rainbow fentanyl pose to our youth, and being a father himself, Dickey said there is no time like the present to educate on drug safety. 

“I’ve got a 15-year-old. I had conversations with him a long time ago about the use of drugs obviously with my profession, but I don’t think a parent, or an educator for that matter, can start too early in having these conversations,” he said.

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