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DEA warns of deadly counterfeit pills sold on social media

Those pills sold online have the potential to be counterfeit drugs, possibly laced with fentanyl.

WASHINGTON — Northern Virginia has seen a recent spike in fentanyl overdoses, according to law enforcement. As police work to get these dangerous drugs off the street, investigators are warning parents about how easily kids can get their hands on counterfeit pills. 

This week, police in Prince William County seized 5,000 counterfeit Percocet pills, believed to be laced with fentanyl.

"That amount of fentanyl in the form of fake Percocet pills could kill thousands and thousands of people," said Shane Todd, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DEA Bureau.

The DEA assisted local law enforcement with this recent seizure, but investigators say that is just one of many. Those deadly drugs have led to recent overdoses in both adults and teens. 

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RELATED: After 2 Virginia teens died from counterfeit Percocet pills, police seize thousands of laced pills

"Kids are at risk, older Americans are at risk, everybody is at risk," said Todd. 

For kids, getting their hands on these dangerous pills is as easy as scrolling through social media. Todd says they are getting them online through Snapchat and Instagram, often times not knowing the drugs are not legitimate pills. 

Online, those drugs are sometimes offered up through cryptic messages, using emojis. The DEA recently released a guide for parents, warning them what to look out for. 

Credit: DEA

Investigators say fentanyl is quick and cheap for drug traffickers. Unfortunately, the collateral damage left behind is a trail of overdoses that doesn't discriminate by age. 

RELATED: Police: 2 teen deaths in 48 hours connected to counterfeit Percocet laced with fentanyl

"If you're taking a pill and don't know the source of that pill, then you are risking your life," said Todd. 

Investigators are urging parents to talk with their children about the dangers of this. They also say you should never take any drug that isn't prescribed to you, and doesn't come directly from a pharmacy.