Authorities seize 30,000 counterfeit pain pills in Arizona

Published: Aug. 17, 2017 at 8:33 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 18, 2017 at 8:16 AM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Federal and Arizona authorities said they seized 30,000 counterfeit pills that contained the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl.

The DEA and Tempe Police Department said the pills were uncovered Sunday, Aug. 13, during a traffic stop and are connected to the Sinaloa Cartel.

"This massive seizure removed thousands of potentially lethal doses of this powerful narcotic off the streets," said Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of DEA in Arizona. "DEA will never relent in its pursuit of Mexican cartels who manufacture huge quantities of fake oxycodone pills using fentanyl."

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, approximately 50 times stronger than heroin.

The DEA said this is the largest seizure of fentanyl tablets in Arizona's history.

The pills were designed to look like oxycodone -- blue pills with an "M" and "30" stamped on one side.

Tucson authorities made a very similar bust of counterfeit pills in June 2016.

Those pills, also made to look like oxycodone, contained fentanyl along with other fillers.

According to several reports, Mexican cartels are mixing fentanyl into their products -- like heroin, cocaine and counterfeit pills -- to make them stronger. Fentanyl is easier and cheaper to produce for the cartels, resulting in a higher profit margin.

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