ORLANDO, Fla. — The synthetic drug fentanyl is blamed for thousands of overdose deaths across the country, and now federal agents say it’s being bought online, even by children.
David Pezzutti is the Assistance Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Orlando. He says ordering fentanyl online can be as easy as ordering groceries: a few clicks and it’s on the way to your doorstep.
“In November, we intercepted a package with five kilograms of fentanyl,” Pezzutti explained. “Two grams of fentanyl can kill somebody.”
Pezzutti says they’re getting information from various task forces who take calls from hospitals reporting youth overdoses.
According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, a new study found that children under the age of 14 are dying of fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group.
When asked how they’re getting the drugs, Pezzutti says the kids often admit they bought it online.
“In the days of old where there’s a person in a trench coat handing you something, it is now done through parcels through the mail, sometimes through dead drops,” Pezzutti explained. “It can be done anywhere.”
Pezzutti says the dealers might be setting up their own websites or even disguising the drug on very well-known sites.
“Selling narcotics is like any other industry out there, but it’s not always easy to track the people selling it down,” Pezzutti said. “The internet and the cyber world is troubling to everybody…it is an untapped market where these digital drug dealers are roaming free and they’re very hard to catch.”
Officials say the vast majority of the drug is produced in China and Mexico.
“So most manufacturers are located overseas, so we have very strict regulations on precursors in the U.S. that don’t allow for the process and creation of fentanyl here,” Pezzutti explained. “Other countries don’t have those laws and regulations.”
Federal investigators say they recommend having an open dialogue with kids about the dangers of fentanyl, and reviewing their chats, phones and social media accounts with them.
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