With at least two notable seizures in the last several days in the Portland metropolitan area, officials are warning Oregonians to be on the lookout for “rainbow fentanyl,” a brightly colored version of the highly toxic synthetic opioid responsible for hundreds of fatal overdoses every day in the United States.
Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country. Versions seized recently in the Portland area resemble thick pieces of brightly colored sidewalk chalk or small multi-colored pills sometimes referred to as “skittles.”
If you or someone you know encounter any version of fentanyl, please refrain from handling it and call 9-1-1 immediately.
“We urge all Oregonians to be on the lookout for fentanyl in our community and respect the highly-toxic nature of this substance,” said Steve Mygrant, chief of the Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
“Fentanyl is commonly disguised in fake prescription pills. If you find or come in contact with pills not dispersed by a licensed pharmacist, assume they are fake and potentially lethal. Fake pills are indistinguishable from real pills.”
“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat we face today,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Jacob D. Galvan from the Seattle Field Division. “It doesn’t matter what color, shape or form it comes in. Just two milligrams of fentanyl — the equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of salt — is enough to kill someone.
“DEA’s Portland Office is seizing record amounts of fentanyl and we will continue this important work because we know American lives are at stake.”
Just this week, a Gresham man was charged in federal court for selling rainbow fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of a 17-year-old Portland teenager.
Duane Robert Hill, 38, was charged on September 7 with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl.
Detectives investigating the June 16 death of the teenager found one full and one-half blue “M-30” pill on the victim’s desk along with small amounts of an unknown crystal substance and a white powder residue.
Lab reports later confirmed that the pills recovered were counterfeit Oxycodone pills manufactured with fentanyl. Investigators believe the teen died of a fentanyl overdose.
Further investigation uncovered evidence that Hill was the third-level supplier of the fentanyl pills found in the teen’s room.
Officials said Hill had been distributing fentanyl pills in quantities ranging from 10 to 100 pills in and around Portland for nearly a year. Hill allegedly sold the counterfeit pills for between $4 and $5 apiece.
This week, the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) executed a search warrant at Hill’s residence and reportedly found him attempting to flush pills down the toilet. He was arrested without incident.
More than 200 M-30 pills were found in Hill’s residence and vehicle along with a 9mm handgun, a scale, assorted drug packaging materials, and $4,480 in cash. Some of the pills recovered from Hill’s toilet were rainbow fentanyl.
Opioid abuse affects communities across the nation. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that there were more than 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the previous year.
Synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) accounted for more than three-quarters of these deaths. Drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of injury or death in the United States.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A three-milligram dose of fentanyl — which amounts to just a few grains of the substance — is enough to kill an average adult male.
The availability of illicit fentanyl in Oregon has caused a dramatic increase in overdose deaths throughout the state.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1.
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, please call the Lines for Life substance abuse helpline at 1-800-923-4357 or visit linesforlife.org. Phone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text “RecoveryNow” to 839863 between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily.
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