Deadly counterfeit pain pills widely available in Nogales
TUCSON, AZ (AZ Family) - Less than 30 seconds.
That’s how long it took to find someone willing to sell the counterfeit pain pills that are causing a spike in overdoses among teenagers in Arizona.
AZ Family sent a team to the border to find out how readily available the pills are on the street.
Law enforcement said the pills confiscated in Arizona during recent busts and overdoses came from Mexico.
“How can we help you?” said the man, as chief investigative reporter Morgan Loew walked out into the street in Nogales, Sonora.
“I’m looking for M30s,” Loew said, referring to the street name for Percocets.
"I'm going to introduce you to my guy," the man responded.
Less than 30 seconds later, hidden camera video shows they were at a storefront, negotiating the cost of the pills.
Loew walked away from the deal without making the purchase.
“Fentanyl is the drug du jour,” said Dr. Frank LoVecchio from Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.
LoVecchio said he's seen a dramatic increase in overdoses due to fentanyl in the past three years.
"Now we see it every single day," he said.
“People like to pass it off as Percocet,” said Parker McKinsey, a recovering addict who lost his younger brother to a fentanyl overdose last year.
"You're not going to find it without fentanyl in it if you're buying it from somebody on the street," McKinsey said.
Last month, a student at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale was arrested after he allegedly supplied pills laced with fentanyl to other students.
Teenagers in San Luis, Tucson, Phoenix and Prescott Valley have died from fentanyl overdoses in the past year. Health experts said there are likely more, but it is difficult to keep track of the number because official statistics are a year behind.
Quick use of the anti-overdose medication, NARCAN, has saved dozens of lives.
“Some patients have been able to describe it was an M30 pill they bought,” said Kim Schmid, who works at Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.
According to federal and local law enforcement officials, the raw fentanyl is made in China and shipped to Mexico. They said the Sinaloa Drug Cartel turns the pure form of the drug into pills, that are stamped to resemble Percocet, with an "M" on one side and a “30” on the other.
From Sinaloa, the drugs are shipped north to the border, where they are either sold on the street or transported by people or in vehicles through the ports of entry into the United States.
From the border area, they are shipped to cities.
CBS 5 Investigates confronted one of the drug sellers in Nogales.
When asked why he’s selling a drug that is known to kill teenagers, the man shrugged his head and said he did not know.
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