Los Angeles police are warning parents to check their children’s candy this Halloween after fentanyl pills were found hidden inside packages of Skittles, Whoppers and SweeTarts at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on October 19.
Officials said that the drugs were discovered after a man tried to bypass airport security with the fake bags of candy.
L.A. County sheriff’s deputies and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents seized around 12,000 opioid pills in total.
The suspect fled the scene but has been identified.
Officials took the incident as an opportunity to again remind parents to be vigilant of contaminated or drug-filled candy and to inspect their children’s candy after Halloween trick-or-treating.
There have been several reports locally and nationally of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills and other drugs found in candy wrappers. For example, Pasadena, California, police seized $300,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills in September. In New York, DEA agents seized 15,000 rainbow-colored pills hidden in Lego boxes in early October.
“With Halloween approaching, parents need to make sure they are checking their kid’s candy and not allowing them to eat anything until it has been inspected by them. If you find anything in candy boxes that you believe might be narcotics, do not touch it and immediately notify your local law enforcement agency,” the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department cautioned.
There have also been nine fentanyl poisonings and one related death involving L.A. Unified School District students in recent weeks.
The DEA released a statement regarding the surge in “rainbow fentanyl.”
“Rainbow fentanyl — fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes — is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction among kids and young adults,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram 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.”
Around 66% of the 107,622 drug overdose deaths in 2021 were due to fentanyl, according to the CDC. Fentanyl is extremely potent — a fatal dose is roughly 2 milligrams, the equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of table salt.