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DENVER (KDVR) — The Drug Enforcement Agency reports more people now die from drug overdoses than from guns with the most lethal threat coming from counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl, a type of anesthesia drug.

Andrea Thomas tells FOX31 she lost her daughter Ashley after she took just half of a form of medication she had no idea was laced with fentanyl.

“Our lives have changed drastically it’s devastated us,” she said.

Thomas’s organization “Voices of Awareness” provides assistance to parents struggling with trauma and grief and heightens awareness of this epidemic in an effort to save lives.

“These aren’t overdoses in most cases, these are poisonings. Unsuspecting people are getting these pills thinking they’re one thing and they’re another,” she said. 

The DEA is launching a public health advisory and “One Pill can Kill” campaign to heighten awareness of the dangers of these drugs and signs parents can watch for on social media and other outlets that are used to target students.

The DEA emphasizes that the need is immediate as cases have jumped more than 800%.

Special Agents tell FOX31 the counterfeit drugs are manufactured mostly in Mexico with more than 42% of pills seized on the streets found to be laced with fentanyl.

A recent bust netted more than 42,000 pills from a single location estimated to be worth more than a million dollars on the street.

The number of deaths caused by fake counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl is skyrocketing. There were 93,000 in 2020, but a new record of more than 100,000 is expected to be reached in 2021.

Thomas says “the days of experimentation are gone because this may be the first time that they’re taking something, they’re unsuspecting and it takes their life immediately.”

She wants anyone exposed to these drugs to consider the dangers.

“It’s not a prescription it’s a counterfeit and so there are no do-overs with this,” she said.

For more information visit the DEA website and Voices of Awareness.