GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WCMH) – A 15-week drug initiative in Ohio and Michigan produced seismic results, said the United States Department of Justice in a release.

As part of the nationwide One Pill can Kill initiative, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Detroit Division, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, said they seized more than 65 kilograms of fentanyl powder and 88,000 fentanyl-laced pills between May 23 and Sept. 8 of this year. The total drugs seized were enough to provide 4.7 million deadly dosages of fentanyl, the agencies added.

In September 2021 the DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill initiative to educate the dangers of and eradicate the threat of fentanyl pills being disguised and sold as prescription drugs.

 “Fentanyl in pill form is a deliberate attempt by drug cartels to make illicit drug use more appealing to Americans,” said DEA Detroit Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene. “Fake pills are especially concerning because the appeal they can have to an unsuspecting person.”

Rainbow fentanyl pills come in bright colors and are meant to look like candy, per DEA officials. (DEA/KLAS)

According to the release, a record number of Americans – 107,622 – died from drug poisoning in 2021. Sixty-six percent of those deaths can be attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. 

In Ross County alone fentanyl was responsible for an 84% increase in overdose deaths between 2019 and 2020. On July 11, defendants were added to a federal narcotics conspiracy case that now includes 23 individuals from Columbus and Canton indicted and charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and other drugs.

Nationwide, more than 10.2 million fentanyl pills and approximately 980 pounds of fentanyl powder were seized during the One Pill Can Kill operation time span. The amount of fentanyl seized was equivalent to more than 36 million lethal doses. Additionally, 338 weapons were seized, including rifles, shotguns, pistols, and hand grenades.