The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public that Mexican cartels are making "mass quantities" of counterfeit prescription drugs laced with fentanyl for distribution in North America.
The agency said a sample of tablets seized nationwide between January and March of 2019 showed 27 percent contained potentially deadly doses of fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid.
The DEA did not elaborate on which prescription drugs the pills were being passed off for.
In a statement Monday, the DEA's acting administrator said drug traffickers are "capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States." He warned that counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and heroin laced with fentanyl kill thousands of people in the U.S. each year.
Fentanyl is one of the primary drivers of the opioid crisis. The drug can be lethal even in small amounts. The DEA's Phoenix Division says over 1.4 million of these fentanyl pills were seized in Arizona alone in the last fiscal year.