Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force agents find 'rainbow' fentanyl for the first time

The brightly colored pills can look like candy, according to DEA officials.

three brightly colored fentanyl pills in a plastic bag
Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force agents seized three multicolored M30 pills on Sept. 16.
Courtesy of Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force

“Rainbow” fentanyl was found for the first time in southern Minnesota during an execution of a search warrant last week. 

Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force agents seized three multicolored M30 pills on Sept. 16. Agents conducted a field test on the pills and found they contained fentanyl. Friday’s seizure was the first time task force agents encountered the brightly colored pills that Drug Enforcement Administration officials say can be mistaken for candy. All the fentanyl pills that were seized before were blue.

The DEA warned the public in late August of multi-colored fentanyl pills that are being targeted for younger demographics because of the coloring. 

“When we talk to the public about how these blue pills are so dangerous and to stay away from these blue pills, now they’re coming in all kinds of different colors,” said Lt. Jeff Wersal, commander of the task force. “We just want to let them know that ‘hey, it’s here.’ The taskforce found some rainbow fentanyl pills, which means, if we found three of them, then there’s got to be tons more in the area and the state.”

Wersal advised parents to talk to kids, friends and loved ones about not taking any pill unless prescribed to them by a doctor. He said that it’s unknown currently if there’s a difference in concentration of fentanyl for the rainbow pills. 

“Those pills you gotta understand, whether they’re blue or yellow or orange, you don’t know how much fentanyl is in each pill,” Wersal said. “Each pill, one pill could have a milligram of fentanyl in it. … there’s no way of knowing if you’re the user, if you’re the buyer or if you’re the seller. You don’t know what’s in each pill.

Numbers for fentanyl seized in southern Minnesota have increased. Wersal said that so far this year, 4,000 individual fentanyl pills were found in contrast to 12 individual pills that were found in 2021. 

“I don’t think it’s gonna get better before it gets worse,” Wersal said. “But, hopefully it’s like any other drug. A lot of drugs come and go and people will realize that this stuff is too dangerous and it’s poisoning people. Hopefully we can curb the issue.”

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.