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DEA Denver Division warning of access to counterfeit pills, illicit drugs through social media

Emojis are being used to buy and sell drugs that could be laced, the DEA says
DEA Denver Division shares warning on access to counterfeit pills, illicit drugs through social media
Posted at 10:18 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 02:13:20-05

DENVER — It only takes a few clicks on a smartphone to obtain a substance that can take a life, according to the Denver Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"You no longer need to go to a dangerous street corner or the dark part of town to purchase these drugs," said David Olesky, assistant special agent in charge of the Denver division. "With the right code words and three or four clicks on your telephone, you can have these pills delivered to a location of your choosing anonymously."

Among the counterfeit pills that were seized in the last six months of 2021, Olesky said their office discovered counterfeit oxycodone and counterfeit Adderall.

"Over the course of recent months in the past year, the Mexican cartels have now introduced counterfeit Adderall pills," he said. " While we also see fentanyl-laced pills, we're also seeing methamphetamine being utilized as the active ingredient in [counterfeit] Adderall pills."

The drug, Adderall, is prescribed for attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders, but teens and college students have been known to use it as a "study drug." Olesky said when teens obtain the Adderall without a prescription, they can't be certain they're receiving a pharmacy grade product.

He went on to say emojis can serve as a means for kids to buy and sell the drugs online.

"The rocket symbol will represent the potency, or you might have other emojis which represent a drug user. The plugged in emoji, if it's used in somebody's moniker or name that represents that they are plugged in or hooked up to a source," Olesky said.

While emojis themselves aren't enough to indicate illegal activity, Olesky said parents should be mindful if they see them being used in conjunction with changes in their child's mood or lifestyle.

"One might want to start having those tough conversations with the individual and make them aware of this message that we're sharing with everyone that these drugs are so deadly," he said.

The DEA has an emoji reference guide as part of their "One Pill Can Kill" campaign.