DEA undercover agents busting dealers selling deadly pills laced with fentanyl on social media

Jessica De Nova Image
Friday, October 8, 2021
DEA busting dealers selling fentanyl-laced pills on social media
DEA Los Angeles says its seeing a rise in counterfeit pill sales on social media and with it an increase in drug-caused deaths involving fentanyl.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration's Los Angeles division say they're seeing a rise in counterfeit pill sales on social media and with it an increase in drug-caused deaths involving fentanyl.

Alexendra Capelouto didn't make past 20 years of age. In 2019, just a couple days before Christmas, she was gone.

In an interview with Eyewitness News on Thursday, Matt Capelouto said his daughter was poisoned with fentanyl.

"I put her in a category of self-medicating," Capelouto said. "She suffered from depression and anxiety and obviously -- not that any parent would condone this -- but she went on search of oxycodone, went on social media, Snapchat to be specific."

Dad said what his daughter thought was oxycodone was delivered right to their front door that night, like a pizza delivery.

Capelouto said Alex took half a pill in her room and lost her life.

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Patricia Saldivar rented a billboard in Arlington, Texas, to try to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl following her daughter's death, WFAA reports.

Toxicologists told Alex's family she had enough fentanyl in her system to kill five people.

Alex is not alone.

The special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Los Angeles, Bill Bodner, said deaths because of counterfeit pills were on the rise.

"One thing that alarms me and alarms everyone here at the DEA, is the proliferation of drugs sales on social media and online marketplace apps. This has turned all of our communities in essence to open air drug markets," Bodner said.

According to the DEA, in 2019, 33% of drug-caused deaths in the greater LA southern California area involved fentanyl. In 2020, fentanyl was behind more than half of drug caused deaths at 51 percent.

A DEA Group Supervisor not wanting to reveal his name in part of several Special Agents going undercover online to take dealers off the streets and social media.

Within seconds of searching on Craigslist, the ads came up-- M30, Roxy, blue-just code words for oxycodone.

"We have a whole group dedicated to social media, online sales dark web sales and we're just out there talking to people, meeting up with them as undercover capacity, doing undercover buys and ultimately arresting them, going back to their houses with search warrants and then prosecute them," the DEA group supervisor said.

It's too late for Alex, but as her case continues under investigation, her dad pushes to pass Alexendra's Law.

According to Capelouto, under Alexendra's Law, drug dealers would get an admonishment when caught the first time, but can be charged with murder if they continue selling illegal drugs and one of their deals ends in death.

"It's been a long wait. We're going on nearly two years. Meanwhile, this is a drug dealer that, you know, who knows how many lives he's taken by being out there spreading this poison," Capelouto said.