With Halloween only days away, public officials are sounding the alarm about the threat of drugs making their way into kids’ candy baskets.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday issued a warning to parents that fentanyl pills were being made to look like candy so that kids would consume them.
According to WTVT-TV in Tampa, Moody held a news conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in which she implored parents to take special care this All Hallows’ Eve.
“This could be the scariest Halloween in my lifetime,” she said.
“I have no doubt that the cartels are trying to purposefully target children at a younger and younger age to get them addicted, which will ensure consistent profits,” Moody said.
The fear is that fentanyl smuggled in candy packaging could wind up in children’s hands as they go trick-or-treating.
While Florida has yet to spot these smuggling tactics, authorities in California have.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release last week that about 12,000 fentanyl pills were found in popular candy packaging during a Transportation Security Administration screening at Los Angeles International Airport.
It said the drugs were found in boxes and bags of SweeTarts, Skittles and Whoppers.
That incident has sparked nationwide calls for parents to be extra vigilant about what their kids are bringing home on Halloween.
Fentanyl is a highly dangerous synthetic opioid, with the Drug Enforcement Administration saying that “one pill can kill.”
Along with the possibility of candy packaging, border agents also have encountered a new version of the drug that comes in rainbow colors.
This variety has been found in several states and has raised concerns that drug traffickers are making a concerted effort to target a younger demographic, according to CNN.
“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 amongst kids and young adults,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in an Aug. 30 news release.
While vigilance from parents is important, some argue that kids are not in the same danger as young adults.
As Dr. Catherine Lewis Wente, a pharmacist and college professor, told WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, “Should I be worried about my five-year-old daughter and my three-year-old son getting fentanyl-laced candy this year? In short, probably not.”
As WRAL noted, fentanyl is not cheap, so it likely wouldn’t be given away by being placed into a child’s goody bag.
Parents with older children, on the other hand, have a bit more to worry about.
Young adults are likely the target customer for drug traffickers as they can buy the opioid or something similar.
Fentanyl can be disguised as other prescription opioids such as Percocet, Xanax and oxycodone, making the danger to adults even greater, according to CNN.
A person could buy one of those drugs only to get more than he or she bargained for.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.