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Fentanyl pill seizures in L.A. region skyrocket

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Seizures of fentanyl-laced pills have more than quadrupled so far this year across four Southern California counties compared to last year, an increase that authorities said Tuesday underscores their efforts to keep pace with the continuing influx of the drug into the region.

At a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission, L.A. Police Department officials said that through September more than 904,000 pills containing the potent synthetic opioid that is more than 50 times stronger than heroin have been confiscated by regional task forces. The figure marked a sharp jump over the roughly 189,000 pills recovered by the task forces over the same period last year.

The seizures in Los Angeles., Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties were made during multiple operations by the region’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, which are overseen by federal authorities and target drug trafficking networks in Southern California. The program operates task forces in other parts of the country as well.

Authorities have had to adjust their tactics as Mexican cartels have shifted their smuggling efforts from cocaine to fentanyl, which offers significantly higher profit margins, LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza told commissioners. A pill costs between 80 cents and $1.50 each to produce and is sold for $15 to $30 a pop on the streets of Los Angeles, officials said.

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