Omaha DEA push to educate students, parents about drugs that look like cereal

“We’ve seen some pills that look like a marshmallow”
Drugs that look like cereal. It’s not a mistake. Clearly, young people are the targets.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Drugs that look like cereal. It’s not a mistake. Clearly, young people are the targets.

With students returning to school in a matter of days for some districts, the Drug Enforcement Agency in Omaha is urging parents to have hard conversations with their children about the fake pills on the street.

“We’ve seen some pills that look like a marshmallow,” said DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin King.

Nothing rings more true of drug dealers marketing to children than the design of these pills to look like cereal or candy.

It’s not either one though, it’s methamphetamine.

“There’s no doubt that it’s directly pushed to a younger and younger audience. And the role of drug traffickers is to use social media. Even using emojis as different types of drugs,” said King.

“We feel like we are running uphill,” said Carey Pomykata.

Carey Pomykata is the Executive Director of Coalition Rx which partners with community organizations to raise awareness of substance abuse.

“We need parents to help us get this message to kids,” said Pomykata.

Dillon’s House is a part of it.

In 2010, Dillon Hayes, an Omaha high school sophomore, had been dealing with teenage anxiety, according to his father, and asked his friends for something to take to make him feel better.

He never woke up from the opioids.

The goal is to educate parents about the dangers so no one has to go through the pain of losing a child.

In 2020, Nebraska’s overdose deaths jumped by 40%. Drug cartels and dealers keep looking for new customers.

“You would think they would not want the overdoses. But they’re more concerned about getting more people addicted. In the end, it’s all about making money,” said King.

In 2022, the deadly problem is more about fentanyl.

Fifty times stronger than heroin and often added to black market pills that look like prescription drugs such as Xanax, Oxycontin, Adderall and ordered off a smartphone.

The DEA finds that four of every 10 pills seized turns out to have a lethal dose of fentanyl in it. An amount that fits on the tip of a pencil.

“Unless it comes from your doctor. Unless it comes from your pharmacist, it’s not trustworthy. You don’t know how much fentanyl is in there,” said Pomykata.

The DEA offers education for parents and educators on talking to young people about the impacts of commonly abused drugs and they also offer education for teens.

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