Amid spike in deadly overdoses, DEA issues alert about online fentanyl sales

“It’s certainly a time where we really have to take action."
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 4:05 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 6:20 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a new public safety alert aimed at parents, the Drug Enforcement Administration is warning about the online sale of fentanyl along with information on how traffickers are using social media to target children.

This comes as law enforcement investigate a spike in deadly overdoses on Oahu.

Officials confirm fentanyl is suspected in at least four deaths on the island in the span of eight days.

“For law enforcement, I would say this is a red alert,” said Gary Yabuta, head of Hawaii’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. He said fentanyl is a danger everyone should pay attention to.


“It’s certainly a time where we really have to take action,” he said.

From Oct. 4 and Oct. 11, law enforcement was called to investigate four suspected overdose deaths: One in Kaimuki, one in Hawaii Kai and two in Kalihi Valley.

Sources confirm a HAZMAT crew found fentanyl at each of the scenes.

The most recent deaths happened Tuesday at a home off Kalihi Street. That’s where officers found the bodies of a man and a woman. Both are said to be in their 60s.

HNN asked Yabuta if this is the first time Oahu has seen this many fentanyl deaths in such a short timespan.

His response: “Absolutely.”

In the new public safety alert directed at parents, the DEA explains what fentanyl is and why it’s so deadly.

The alert also has information on the online sale of the drug. The DEA says traffickers are using social media to advertise and sell fentanyl.

The agency also provides a list of emojis that could indicate drug transactions so parents can decipher messages.

Meanwhile, local, state and federal law enforcement say they’re working to choke off the supply.

“We’re doing intelligence,” Yabuta said, “We’re gathering information and trying to use this information to target specific areas and items.”

In a statement, Honolulu police said investigators are working with federal law enforcement to “detect and intercept imported fentanyl and to arrest and prosecute traffickers.”

HPD added, “The public is advised to not touch anything that may contain fentanyl powder or pills as well as items that are in close proximity. They should call 911 immediately.”

Parents are also being urged to get Narcan and learn how to use it. The nasal spray can reverse a fentanyl overdose.