NEW YORK — Thousands of potentially deadly pills were seized in Midtown last week in the largest rainbow fentanyl drug bust in the city.
Officials say 15,000 fentanyl pills are now off the streets.
“This is deliberate. This is calculated. This is treacherous deception to market rainbow fentanyl like candy. This is every parent’s worst nightmare, especially in the month of October as Halloween fast approaches,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino III said.
Seized during a sting, federal drug agents say they all came from one woman — 48-year-old Latesha Bush, of Trenton, New Jersey.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Tarentino said.
Officials say Bush drove to the city and was making a drop on 10th Avenue near the Lincoln Tunnel.
The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force was able to see through the innocent-looking Lego boxes in her car to reveal packages of pills that were hidden inside.
According to officials, this is the largest seizure to date in New York City.
As more of these rainbow fentanyl pills are being seized daily, there is cause for concern.
“In the city, overdose deaths are at a record high and 80% of them are related to fentanyl,” said Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor.
Just one of the candy-colored pills can be deadly.
“These medications are incredibly potent. Fifty times more potent than heroin. A hundred times more potent than morphine, which is what we give for cancer patients, for those who are on the front lines in battlefields,” family medicine physician Dr. Mikhail Varshavski said.
Sharon Richmond lost her son Vincent to a drug overdose in 2017.
“He tried to detox on his own. He couldn’t,” she said.
She says the 25-year-old was struggling with addiction when he unknowingly took fentanyl-laced cocaine. She now raises awareness and is pushing for drug dealers to face harsher penalties.
“They have no fear, and I think that the repercussions have to be that if they know that a child, a young adult, anyone is going to be taking these pills, then they are most likely going to die because it’s laced with fentanyl, and I think they should be charged as a murderer,” Richmond said.
Bush is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.