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DEA: Cartel's Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals Are 3rd Stage Of Opioid Crisis

The Drug Enforcement Administration is seeing the latest in the cartel’s adaptability. The group started lacing fentanyl in drugs other than the well-known oxycodone, like Xanax and Percocet.

According to Erica Curry with the DEA said the counterfeit pharmaceuticals are the third wave of the opioid crisis.

“So now that some of the cartels know that we’re looking for these pills, they’ve started manufacturing other pills. And it’s just like anything else, it’s a cat and mouse game. They’re going to notice that we’re paying attention to a particular drug and they’re going to switch it up and then we’re going to have to go after that," Curry said. 

She said last year, Arizona law enforcement seized  about 1.4 billion counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Arizona. They confiscated 300,000 the year before.

Curry said the spike was the result of a combination of increased production by the cartel as well as law enforcement’s growing awareness of the new drug.

Madeline Nelson is completing her last year of college at Arizona State University through the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She previously attended the University of Arizona until she interned at the state capitol with Arizona Capitol Television. There, she learned of ASU’s Broadcast Journalism school in Phoenix and decided to transfer.Nelson is originally from Minnesota and hopes to continue to travel while working as a newscast producer or reporter.