What does 'rainbow Fentanyl' look like? A lot like sweeTart candy

Ella Kipling September 21, 2022
What does 'rainbow Fentanyl' look like? A lot like sweeTart candy
Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Across the United States, concern has been rising over the increased prevalence of “rainbow fentanyl,” a colourful version of the highly potent drug, which targets children and young people.

In September 2021, the DEA launched a new campaign, One Pill Can Kill, to educate Americans about the dangers of fake pills.

Now, they have issued a warning over “rainbow fentanyl,” explaining the dangers of the substance and the prevalence of it currently in the US.

The CDC has reported that 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, and 66% of those deaths were related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

DEA issues rainbow fentanyl warning

The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a warning to the public regarding the colourful fentanyl known as “rainbow fentanyl.”

In August 2022, the DEA and their law enforcement partners seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states.

Anne Milgram, DEA administrator, said: “The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States.”

If you encounter fentanyl in any form, do not handle it and call 911 immediately, the DEA advises.

What does rainbow fentanyl look like?

Rainbow fentanyl pills and powder come in a variety of bright colours, shapes, and sizes. The pills resemble the sweet and sour candy, SweeTARTS.

According to the DEA, the colorful pills appear to be a new method drug cartels are using to sell highly addictive fentanyl to children and young people.

It is not just being seized in pill form, but also as powder and blocks that look like sidewalk chalk.

Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

What is in rainbow fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. The DEA states that two milligrams of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose.

However, without lab testing, it is impossible to know how much fentanyl is concentrated in a pill or powder. 

There are claims that certain colors of rainbow fentanyl are stronger than others, though “there is no indication through DEA’s laboratory testing that this is the case.”

The DEA wages a war on fentanyl

Special Agent Bill Bodner from DEA Los Angeles appeared on Fox 11 to discuss fentanyl. He said that the DEA is targeting those selling fentanyl for federal charges.

Bodner explained that if you sell just one pill and it causes a death, you can be subject to 20 years in federal prison, which he deemed “a very significant charge.”

“I think the thing that I’ve seen that really scares me and keeps me awake at night is the effort, and it’s a conscious effort, to make these powerful powerful drugs look less threatening,” Bodner said.

If you’ve been affected by this story you can contact American Addiction Centers on (877) 686-7688 or Talk To Frank on 0300 123 6600 in the UK.

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Ella is the Head of Content at Freshered and also works a freelance journalist at GRV Media, writing for HITC and Reality Titbit. Her interests lie in news and anything culture related including entertainment, musicals, books, and social media. Ella is also a big supporter of student media and writes for her university’s newspaper as well as hosting her own show on the radio station.