Authorities found thousands of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills hidden inside a Lego box, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week. The late-night bust took place in Manhattan last week, resulting in the arrest of a New Jersey woman.
“Rainbow fentanyl is a clear and present danger, and it’s right here in New York,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said in a news release.
Officials called it the largest such seizure to date in New York and said the drugs were intended for widespread distribution. Federal agents work to crack down on violent drug cartels in Mexico believed to be trafficking drugs into the US
It was first reported in February, the rainbow colored pills were seized in at least 21 states, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said last month. While fentanyl is still most often disguised as oxycodone or another prescription drug, officials say rainbow pills are on the rise.
“Cashing fentanyl in candy — and hiding it in children’s toys — will never hide the fact that fentanyl is a deadly poison that harms our communities, our families and our city,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell.
Investigators said they observed the suspect, 48-year-old Latesha Bush, holding a black bag wrapped around a large object as she entered a vehicle.
After stopping the vehicle, law enforcement reportedly found two black bags and a yellow Lego container with several brick-shaped packages covered in black tape next to the building blocks. The black tape covering one of the packages had been partially ripped open, revealing the colorful pills inside.
There were about 15,000 pills and preliminary tests showed the presence of fentanyl, according to the DEA. Fentanyl is a laboratory opioid drug that can be 50 times stronger than heroinso even a small amount can lead to fatal overdoses.
The suspect was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court last Friday and bail was set, officials said in the news release.
“This operation alone removed the equivalent of 500,000 lethal doses of fentanyl from circulation in the Empire State,” Tarentino said. “During the same reporting period, the DEA seized the equivalent of more than 36 million lethal doses nationwide.”
Two Mexican drug cartels are responsible for the majority of fentanyl in the US, according to federal officials: the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
“These cartels act with calculated, deliberate treachery to bring fentanyl into the United States and get people to buy it through counterfeit pills, hiding it in other drugs, any means they can to drive addiction and make money . “Milgram he told CBS Mornings last month.
The Department of Justice considers the Jalisco cartel to be “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.” The cartel leader, Nemesio Oseguera, “El Mencho,” are among the most wanted by Mexican and American authorities.