COEUR D'ALENE - Law enforcement agencies around north Idaho are warning the public about a surge in new types of fentanyl called "skittles" or "rainbow." Skittles resemble pieces of brightly colored candy, while rainbow fentanyl is usually chalky or in powder form. Over the weekend, Coeur d'Alene police seized about 50 multi-colored pills. Of all seized pills, no matter the color, "M-30" was imprinted on them.
"We need the public to know that multi-colored fentanyl, including counterfeit pills, powder, and chalk-like blocks, are being seen locally," says Captain John Kempf of the Idaho State Police. "It is unknown if this multi-colored fentanyl is targeted at young people, but parents must be aware that it is different than what law enforcement saw last year. We know it's in our schools and we also know dealers use social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to advertise and coordinate deals with young people."
There is no indication that the new form of fentanyl is more powerful. However, several overdoses, including fatal overdoses, of children as young as 15 have been documented in the area. Investigators believe most illicit fentanyl is manufactured in Mexico and smuggled into the United States through Mexico-based drug cartels.
According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths are the leading killer of Americans between 18 and 45. In 2021, over 107,000 Americans and 353 Idahoans died from drug overdose deaths. Unfortunately, these are record-setting numbers in both cases. 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. While North Idaho has seen a recent increase in drug-related overdoses, Kootenai County has already doubled the number of fentanyl overdose deaths from 2021.
"Because of the severity of this threat, the Idaho State Police Fentanyl Education Project (IFEP) offers presentations to any size group about the dangers of fentanyl in our communities," says Captain Kempf. "We see the consequences when fentanyl is used and believe educating our community is important. We encourage parents and children to attend. I urge all Idahoans to be on the lookout for fentanyl and respect its highly toxic nature. Fentanyl is commonly disguised in fake prescription pills. If you find pills not dispersed by a licensed pharmacist, assume they are fake and potentially lethal." Captain Kempf can be reached at 208-209-8620 for more information.
Over the past two weeks, the DEA North Idaho Narcotics Enforcement Task Force reported fentanyl seizures of 3,000 pills which are a significant increase over past seizures.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. A 3-milligram dose of fentanyl - equal to 10-15 grains of table salt - is enough to kill an average adult male. Without laboratory testing, there is no way to know how much fentanyl is in a pill or powder.
If you encounter any version of fentanyl, refrain from handling it and call 911 immediately.
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, call the Lines for Life substance abuse helpline at 1-800-923-4357 or visit www.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. Pacific Time daily.