New details of a federal investigation into a “massive” fentanyl ring were released Monday as officials announced 11 additional suspects—out of 23 total—had been arrested in connection with the illegal sale and distribution of the ultra-deadly synthetic opioid, which health officials say is a major factor in the country’s overdose epidemic.
“Fentanyl is the greatest threat to Americans today,” the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anne Milgram, told reporters at a news conference.
“It is devastating families across our country and killing Americans from all walks of life,” Milgram said. “And it is the leading cause of death today in the United States for Americans between the age of 18 and 45.”
According to the authorities, Diamond Lynch, a 20-year-old mother, died from an overdose, which sparked their inquiry.
According to Milgram, Lynch took a pill in April 2021 that was designed to resemble the prescription painkiller Oxycodone and died almost immediately in Washington, D.C.
Authorities said Lynch’s source had previously made her overdose before giving her the lethal fake medication that proved to be fatal.
“Our investigation did not stop there, though,” said Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. “We uncovered leads that pointed to a massive fentanyl distribution network.”
“This was a conspiracy that flooded the District of Columbia with fake pills containing fentanyl dangerously marked, as they so often are, with ‘M-30’ imprints to resemble legally manufactured Oxycodone,” Graves said.
The accused is charged with conspiring to distribute fentanyl. Some of the individuals are also accused of possessing fentanyl with the purpose of distributing it and of conspiring to commit international money laundering.
Over a million fentanyl pills were allegedly pushed into the district by the defendants, according to Milgram.
Before the $30 pill that killed Lynch and started the FBI probe two years ago, wholesale costs varied from 30 cents to $3, according to Milgram.
Law enforcement claims that some popular social media platforms have been used by criminals to link consumers and suppliers and promote fentanyl. In this instance, the authorities claimed to have obtained search warrants in order to locate the communications that supported the conspiracy accusations.
“The criminals are making so much money off of each sale that they don’t care if they kill Americans in the process,” Milgram said. “Especially because when it comes to modern drug conspiracies like this one, most of the people involved never met in person.”