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Alert: BCI Identifies First Case of ‘Rainbow Fentanyl’

For the first time, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has identified some confiscated drugs as “rainbow fentanyl,” the deadly colorful pills designed to resemble candy that drug traffickers are using to drive addiction among young people, Attorney General Dave Yost announced today.

“Do not be fooled by appearances – rainbow fentanyl is death disguised as candy,” Yost said. “The bottom line is this: If you’re taking a pill that wasn’t prescribed by your doctor, you can’t be certain of what you are consuming.”

In a report issued today to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, BCI’s Drug Chemistry Laboratory said the 1,025 brightly colored pills recently seized by the sheriff’s as part of a Columbus-area drug-trafficking investigation are rainbow fentanyl. 

Rainbow Fentanyl

Rainbow Fentanyl seized in Franklin County

“These particular pills originated in Mexico but were intercepted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office before they could be distributed,” Yost said. “A special thanks to Sheriff Baldwin’s Special Investigations Unit – keep up the good work.”  

The criminal investigation remains ongoing.

“We’re certainly proud of the diligent work of our Special Investigations Unit and BCI’s lab,” said Chief Deputy Rick Minerd of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. “The sad reality is drug traffickers continue to stoop to all-time lows, marketing their deadly products to Americans of all ages for the sole purpose of monetizing addiction.”

BCI has previously identified fentanyl in multiple forms, including colored powders, and in combination with other drugs, in drugs seized during investigations. But this analysis marks the bureau’s first instance of rainbow fentanyl, which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has warned is a deliberate effort by traffickers to mask deadly fentanyl in a form attractive to young Americans.

The deadly pills have been showing up in many states throughout the country.

Attorney General Yost urges Ohio law enforcement agencies to stay mindful of the hazards posed by fentanyl exposure. Law enforcement officers should use universal precautions and treat all drug evidence as if it were hazardous, as fentanyl exists in multiple forms and is increasingly seen in combination with other drugs.

Local agencies that need additional training or tools to safely identify fentanyl and other substances in the field, Yost said, can reach out to BCI for such resources.

BCI’s Crime Lab remains on the forefront of drug testing for Ohio law enforcement, providing accurate and timely analysis of evidence to agencies at no charge.

In 2022, BCI’s lab identified fentanyl in 9,151 items submitted by law enforcement, making up 22.1% of all drug analyses. Already in 2023, BCI’s lab has processed 2,306 items containing fentanyl.

Additionally, the lab continues to see analogs of fentanyl, including para-flouorfentanyl, which was found in 6.4% of all drug analyses conducted in 2022.

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