"What we're seeing in these cases is that young people, teenagers, they're too comfortable with prescription drugs."
HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Authorities are sounding the alarm and urging parents to talk to their children about the dangers of fentanyl-laced pills, which they say can be even more deadly than heroin.
The warning comes as detectives investigate the death of 15-year-old Melanie Ramos, who died of an overdose at a high school campus in Hollywood.
On Thursday, authorities said a 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter for allegedly selling a fentanyl-laced drug to two high school students - including Ramos - and a 16-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly selling narcotics to a third student at a nearby park.
"What we're seeing in these cases is that young people, teenagers, they're too comfortable with prescription drugs," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner during an interview Thursday with Eyewitness News. "They're seeking these drugs out ... what they're not realizing is that these drugs are fake and they don't contain legitimate pharmaceutical ingredients. They're made with fentanyl and that's what making them incredibly deadly."
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice issued a warning on the rise in what's called rainbow fentanyl - a brightly colored version of the synthetic opioid that dealers are using to target teens and young adults.
Bodner believes deception is what's driving grim statistics in the community. He said fentanyl-laced pills are 50 times more deadly than heroin.
"Know that these pills that are being sold on the street now, 100% of the time, are fake," he said. "Parents need to have conversations and let these kids know. We need to empower them with information."
The LAPD said overdoses are on the rise and they'll be working to find the narcotics dealer who sold the pills in Ramos' death investigation.