DOJ, Senate Leader Continue To Stoke Irrational Fear That Drug Dealers Are Targeting Kids With Multicolored Fentanyl

from the tfw-drug-users-are-more-responsible-than-public-officials dept

People who fail to understand the basics of supply and demand continue to insist suppliers want to kill potential customers.

The DEA is leading the charge, engaging in hysterics while pretending to present facts, claiming that recent busts involving multicolored fentanyl indicate drug dealers are targeting children — children prone to ingesting pills that look like medicine or, even more stupidly, colorful fentanyl that resembles (according to DEA officials) “sidewalk chalk.”

Halloween is just around the proverbial corner, which means hysteria is being compounded as government officials insist without factual basis that average adult drug customers (and their dealers) are going to be handing drugs out like literal candy just because these officials imagine the drugs that have been seized resemble something children would consume immediately if found mixed into their Halloween trick or treat hauls.

Here are the seized drugs the DEA insists are meant to addict and/or kill children:

With Halloween approaching and federal law enforcement obliging with the narrative, this story — which should have been dead in the water shortly after its initial release earlier this month — continues to survive. Those helping this narrative thrive should know better.

Reporters at major new services are presenting government claims unchallenged — the sort of carelessness that has repeatedly burned reporters who more closely resemble stenographers than journalists in the past. Local law enforcement agencies are beginning to beat the same drum because why not? Fear leads to better funding and fewer inconvenient questions about law enforcement tactics. And the DEA remains the DEA. The more irrational fear it can supply, the less likely it is that its budget will see any meaningful decreases.

So, we get stupid bullshit like this, delivered by Kate Snow and Safia Samee Ali, alleged journalists for NBC News.

Drug cartels are using brightly colored “rainbow fentanyl” pills to target young people, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration warned Monday, signaling a new threat in the opioid crisis. 

In an interview Monday, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said the drug is being sold in pills and powders that come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes intended to look like candy. Sometimes traffickers even nickname the products “Sweet Tarts” and “Skittles” after real candy. 

“This is another tactic that they’re using to get more fentanyl to more people,” Milgram said. “The more drugs they can sell, the more addiction they drive, the more profit they make.”

Everything issued by the DEA from its self-serving mouth is repeated verbatim and unchallenged by NBC News. It’s not journalism. It barely qualifies as reporting. Not a single question is raised about the DEA’s assertions, not even when the assertions veer into the realm of comical conspiracy theorizing.

Milgram warned that cartels are also following children on social media to get access to them.

“Our kids are on smartphones, and that means that the cartels are following them,” she said. “The cartels are on smartphones, and what we know without question is that most young people are aware that there are people dealing drugs on social media, not everyone, but particularly when you start to talk to high school kids, they have an awareness.” 

Drug cartels may have plenty of money and power but I seriously doubt they’re tasking lower level members with following teens on social media platforms to expand their market share. This is a seriously stupid assertion and, of course, it’s presented as gospel by the DEA and accepted as gospel by the NBC stenographers.

There’s a correction appended to this so-called news article, but all the correction suggests is the reporters misquoted the DEA spokesperson to inadvertently limit the breadth of the DEA’s assertions.

CORRECTION (Sept. 27, 2022, 7:35 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that drug cartels were using “rainbow fentanyl” pills to target people as young as middle schoolers. Cartels are targeting young people with the multi-colored pills, the DEA administrator said.

Middle schoolers are “young people.” All this correction suggests is that the DEA was uncomfortable with being linked to the perception that targeting of “young people” by drug cartels pushing colorful fentanyl is limited to those above the age of 12.

The DOJ is getting into the action, too. Its statements aren’t quite as hysterical, but it’s still making statements that portray nearly any amount of fentanyl as lethal, something that’s only going to encourage the nocebo affect displayed by far too many state and local police officers.

The Department of Justice seized an estimated 10 million fentanyl-laced pills, the attorney general and DEA administrator announced on Tuesday at DEA headquarters.

“Of this year, DEA agents conducted 389 investigations, including 35 cartel linked investigations in 201 cities,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters. “Over the course of these investigations, we seized over 10 million fake pills and 82 pounds of fentanyl powder motor crews across all 50 states. That is enough to kill 36 million Americans. In addition agencies 338 weapons during this operation, including shotguns pistols, and hand grenades.”

“Enough to kill 36 million Americans.” Sounds bad, man. But why would it? Repeat business is the core of the illicit drug market. Killing off 36 million customers is just bad business. Even though the drug has the potential to kill, it does not mean that dividing the total haul by the average amount needed to result in a fatal OD accurately represents the threat the drugs represent. And it’s interesting the DOJ did not perform the same calculation for the weapons and ammunition seized. If the government seized, say, 10,000 rounds of ammunition during this operation, it should be reported as enough bullets to kill 10,000 Americans. I mean, that’s just math.

This ABC News article — again written without any challenge to the claims made by the DEA and DOJ — contains yet another truly ridiculous statement from DEA administrator Anne Migram:

“There are 100 million other people on Snapchat 150 million more Americans on Instagram 180 million more on Facebook. So [drug cartels] believe that there will always be someone else that they can sell to.”

This appears to be the DEA’s attempt to portray hysterical claims about drugs with potential to kill millions as credible. As was pointed out earlier, it’s bad business to kill customers by the tens, much less the millions. But the DEA insists cartels don’t mind killing millions of Americans because that still leaves millions of other Americans to kill. We, the people, are paying billions to agencies like the DEA in exchange for five decades of consecutive drug war losses justified by galaxy brain horseshit that somehow manages to be republished across the net by “credible” news sources without skepticism or even a handful of tough questions.

Governments are opportunistic. The DEA certainly is. And so are certain elected representatives, who see the zeitgeist and carpe diem it, no matter how ridiculous the underlying premise. Halloween is prime hysteria time and the top man in the US Senate is all over it.

Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer has warned rainbow fentanyl may be distributed during Halloween to get children “hooked.”

Speaking on Sunday outside his New York office, Schumer said rainbow fentanyl was one of the biggest health issues facing the country right now.

He also said he wants $290 million to help fight the hold the addictive opioid is gaining in America.

If you want $290 million, just ask for it. Don’t insult everyone (but the DEA’s) intelligence by pretending that this is the year drug dealers will finally do the thing parents groups, idiotic public officials, and that one part of your Facebook feed (you know the one) have insisted for years will happen on Halloween: the free distribution of drugs to trick-or-treating children as some sort of guerrilla marketing campaign for drug cartels.

No one likes being talked down to by an idiot, Chuck.

“This is fentanyl, this is a Sweetart: you tell me the difference,” Schumer said while holding up pictures of the addictive pills and the tangy sweet, according to a New York Post report.

“Halloween is coming … this is really worrisome and really dangerous,” he added.

You can see the news conference here, as reported by an NBC news affiliate (under the headline “TOP STORY”). This is what accompanied this obviously fatuous question by Schumer.

There are several ways to answer this disingenuous question, ranging from “STFU, Chuck” to “one is packaged and sold by multiple retailers on store shelves, and one is packaged and sold by multiple retailers in covert transactions that often involve lightly-coded text messages,” but the question really doesn’t deserve an answer. Cartels are not trying to make fentanyl-laced pills look like candy and they have zero interest in giving the product away for free, not even on a quasi-holiday. If anything, the coloring is brand differentiation that may make drug customers better informed about product strength and dose size, which could conceivably lead to fewer inadvertent overdoses.

But never mind the factual details and non-hysterical rhetoric. Let’s just join Chuck on the DEA’s bus to Dumbass Town. $290 million is a relative drop in the bucket when it comes to drug war spending. And as long as we’re going to keep losing that war, we may as well continue to look incredibly stupid doing it.

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Comments on “DOJ, Senate Leader Continue To Stoke Irrational Fear That Drug Dealers Are Targeting Kids With Multicolored Fentanyl”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
katsai (profile) says:

My manager brought this up on a team call yesterday. I have the mute button to thank for me still being employed today because I just wanted to yell about how stupid the whole thing was and how NOBODY is going to waste that much money just giving away hard drugs. Reminds me of the 80s Satanic Panic. Back then it was razor blades in your candy and convincing your kids to bow down to Satan. I’m not sure how we managed to get even dumber than that, but this certainly qualifies.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Kids seem like a hard customer base

I was just about to say the same thing.

But let’s take the DEA at their word and assume cartels are targeting kids.

If the cartels are giving away free samples of drugs, do they include a business card? How will the kid that gets hooked know where the drug comes from, when he wants more? And how does the cartel business card tell the kid where to get drugs without telling their parents or police?

And once the kids are hooked, where will the kids get the money to buy more drugs? If we’re talking about middle schoolers, how will they meet the drug dealers?

Okay, sure, these aren’t impossible obstacles to overcome, but it seems like it would be a lot easier to sell more drugs to adults that are already hooked (you know, existing customers) than hand out free samples at Halloween and hope that maybe some kids will get hooked.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

“Our kids are on smartphones, and that means that the cartels are following them,” she said. “The cartels are on smartphones, and what we know without question is that most young people are aware that there are people dealing drugs on social media, not everyone, but particularly when you start to talk to high school kids, they have an awareness.”

I use a smartphone, but not social media. These guys are full of insanity. I would make just as much sense this way:

“Our kids are breathing oxygen, and that means that the cartels are following them,” she said. “The cartels are breathing oxygen, and what we know without question is that most young people are aware that there are people dealing drugs on social media, not everyone, but particularly when you start to talk to high school kids, they have an awareness.”

And claiming children are aware their are drug dealers on social media…. so what? Are they implying that in knowing that the children are now mind controlled to go get in contact with them so they can get some drugs?

I mean, I’m all for encouraging children to not do drugs. But can we please have arguments that doesn’t sound like the author was taking some sort of psychotropic. Or has massive cognitive dissonance.

That One Guy (profile) says:

The gnomes would be proud

Step 1: Give drugs to kids, a group that isn’t exactly known for having a bunch of disposable income just lying around, in order to hook them on those drugs and get them to buy more.

Step 2: Kill a bunch of those same kids with said drugs, ensuring both that you just lot a ton of prospective customers and gained an incredible amount of hostile law enforcement attention who want you for drug production, drug distribution, and now mass murder of children.

Step 3:

Step 4: Profit!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Nicola Lane (profile) says:

I'm Confused

One minute we are being told that merely being in the same room as fentanyl could cause a near fatal overdose. Now we are being told that kids are going to actually going to eat hadfuls of the stuff and get addicted.

I also wonder how the kids are going to know which bit of candy it was that they got addicted to and work out where to find a dealer.

I have many more questions!

ECA (profile) says:

WOW, sounds like that Old razor blade story, no one can trace

A few things about this scare tactic.
Something like it appears every once in awhile, for SOME god awful reason.
Lets get 1 Big counter to this.
ANYONE causing problem with children, and ends up in Jail, May not be around for long. Anyone messing with Halloween, Should be SHOT.

Thre are only a few stupid groups that would even consider scare tactics like this. religious groups or those that dont like Public groups.

Dont get to know your neighbors, thay Might be scary.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Halloween is coming … *
Don’t miss this season of *Game of Skittles

*“Our kids are on smartphones, and that means that the cartels are following them,” *

A. Childe 789 following

The cartels obviously know their market. “I’m uninterested in heavy drugs unless they come in various colors”, say kids, and the cartels listened.

tom (profile) says:

While a lot of the screeching about fentanyl is political grandstanding, Tobacco and later Vaping companies did target kids with advertising, colorful boxes and tasty sounding flavors in hopes the kids would start using their addictive products. I see little reason to think that current drug cartels wouldn’t follow these examples. I remember when candy cigarettes were a thing. So it is possible there is a bit of truth to the colorful pills being used to target kids.

But far more likely that this is yet another government “Think of the Children” excuse to get more funding and more anti-citizen power.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Remember kids, if someone gives you drugs this Halloween make sure you say thank you.
Drugs are really expensive.

“Schumer said rainbow fentanyl was one of the biggest health issues facing the country right now.”

Yep, totally ahead of rampant mental health crisis, white supremacists, people threatening to kill those who dare write software to … checks notes… make sure that poll workers are scheduled to work, SCOTUS working to undermine the nation, assholes voting against funding FEMA then begging for more money, politicians making medical decisions for other people, laws forcing women to carry skullless children to term, covid, monkeypox, QAnon, grandstanding political assholes wasting attention on myths, politicians making possession of fentanyl test strips a felony (because we’d rather they fscking DIED than avoided laced drugs), 988 not fully funded, not enough mental health professionals, not enough resources to train new mental health professionals, the mentally ill who think Faux News is actually news, Ginni Thomas, the list just keeps going for a very long time before I arrive any fscking where near ‘rainbow fentanyl’.

We have enough real actual problems, and you are promoting more fear mongering… are you putting your hat in the ring to be the older tucker carlson for an older demo?

Christenson says:

Re: Legal Prescriptions are the starter for Opiate Addiction

@TAC, thing is, we are losing 50-100K poeple a year to opiates… but we can’t talk about the Sackler family promoting a single study to make them seem safe, nor a DEA asleep at the switch with a punitive attitude on weaning those prescribed opiates, driving those that got hooked on their PRESCRIPTIONS to street drugs like fentanyl, and not providing real help to those that want to quit or just leaving people on maintenance doses.

I cracked a vertebrae one day, at the ER they gave me a prescription for Vicodin after asking how much pain I was in…but nothing about how not to get hooked, much less what to do if I ended up with a habit. I was lucky…I decided the pain was tolerable and kind of to be expected and lived with it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The Sacklers should be burning in hell.

Congress should be burning in hell, because they control the DEA purse strings and we spent more chasing down weed than other drugs.

The billions coming from the Sacklers & others isn’t enough & we all know that the money isn’t going to actually help those who ended up addicted.

Republicans vote against all harm reduction because it is better to have people die from tampered with drugs or dirty needles then to do the human thing of make a safe place for them to use because then they are “helping” them be addicts.
(something something love thy neighbor help fellow man)

The pharmacies, the suppliers, & a long list of people should all be burning in hell. You can not expect people to believe that a town of 300 people needed over 200,000 pills per person who lived there & that you had no idea it was a pill mill.

We have a member of Congress getting people freaked out that rainbow drugs are coming for halloween, rather than dealing with actual problems (lest people notice that the biggest problem in the nation is Congress grandstanding while screwing us).

We had “treatment” facilities that existed to get paid by medicaid & helped no one that ran for a really long time, collections tons of cash, and no one really did much to stop them. Meanwhile Congress is upset over rude language.

Until we demand they start dealing with reality, things will never get better. They need to listen to experts, stop pretending that if people pray hard enough they can drive the demon of addiction out of them, that if they just tried harder they could kick the addiction.

They see it as a failure of character, rather than a chemical imbalance and that makes it impossible to actually deal with the problems.

They have made it impossible for people who have chronic pain to get medication without additives meant to keep them from “abusing” the drugs and those additives just destroy kidneys so no big deal.

Drugs have fallen into the ever popular black & white mode of thinking and more people end up suffering because of it.

Christenson – I live in constant pain, I know the dbl edge sword of easy access to pain pills & sometimes make the decision to hurt rather than to make the pain stop with some pills.

discussitlive (profile) says:


I see our politicians are getting their exercise in.
Jumping to conclusions
Flying off the handle (Broom control anyone?)
Carrying things too far
Flipping their wigs
Pushing their luck
Dodging responsibility

Moral panic? Must be another election year. Always telling us what we need to be afraid, who is to blame, and how to not fix it. Times past, we could always count on the politicians doing the right thing after they’ve tried every thing else. They’ve seem to have lost that last though.

I pine for the old days at times.

dickeyrat says:

Nothing new here. No surprises. As usual, while the Phlegmocrats are busy despising Jimmy Carter and otherwise getting entangled in their own shoelaces, the Fascists are/have quietly taking/taken over everything else. Who needed those pesky elections and various freedoms, anyway? Sieg Heil MAGA everybody — brought to you in part by your very own Democratic Party!

Rich says:

Sure. More money to law enforcement.

“He also said he wants $290 million to help fight the hold the addictive opioid is gaining in America.”

Excellent. I can’t wait to see some more funding dedicated to addiction research and treatment centers. I truly believe that $290,000,000 is enough to really make a dent in all of the suffering…uh…hang on…


“$290,000,000 is not to be used for treating addiction?”

“I have no idea how many guns and bullets that money could buy for law enforcement, I thought you wanted to fight addiction, not kill the addicted.”

Anyone know how many more Americans “Law Enforcement” agencies need to kill before we can be safe?

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