Police warn of 'rainbow fentanyl'

·2 min read

Aug. 26—Police in the Portland area have made at least two notable seizures in the past several days of "rainbow fentanyl," spurring the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to issue a statewide warning Friday.

"Rainbow fentanyl is a brightly colored version of the highly toxic synthetic opioid responsible for hundreds of fatal overdoses every day in the United States," the agencies said in a news advisory.

Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country. A version seized recently in the Portland area resembles thick pieces of brightly colored sidewalk chalk. Some versions seized elsewhere in pill or tablet form resemble candy, police said.

"If you or someone you know encounter any version of fentanyl, please refrain from handling it and call 911 immediately," the advisory urged.

"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 prescriptions 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," DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Jacob D. Galvan said in the advisory. "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."

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 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 those deaths. Drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of injury or death in the United States.