DES MOINES, Iowa — Illicit use of fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18-45, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Now, drug dealers are increasingly targeting children and young people with fentanyl pills made to look like candy.

Rainbow fentanyl pills have not been discovered in the metro yet, but Sgt. Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department feels it’s only a matter of time before the pills disguised to look like candy start to show up.

“Like anything else, it just takes a little longer to make its way to the heartland,” Parizek said.

DMPD is basing its assumption on the record amount of counterfeit M30 pills they’ve seized laced with the deadly drug. So far in 2022, they’ve confiscated nearly 20,000 pills.

“The biggest concern we have is the same with the M30 pills, it’s the inconsistency of the fentanyl in each pill and that creates such a dangerous situation for the user. You might see one pill with half a milligram in it and one that has almost eight milligrams of fentanyl in it. Well, two milligrams is about a fatal dose, so you might have one person who takes one and thinks, oh, I need to take two and the next thing you know they’re dead,” Parizek said.

The age of people using fentanyl pills ranges from the early 20s to late 30s, according to Parizek. The main concern is the potential for younger kids to be drawn to the new rainbow appearance, whether they buy them personally, or come across them in a home where an adult is using them.

“That’s a risk if you have any type of narcotic in the house. When it comes to illegal and illicit narcotics, people aren’t too careful with those anyway so it is a concern if you have those in your home and you have small children,” Parizek said.

In response to the rise of fentanyl being trafficked across our southern border and into communities, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio introduced the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act in late September. The bill makes the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death punishable by federal felony murder charges.

Senator Chuck Grassley who serves on the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control said last year, the DEA seized enough fentanyl powder to kill every American in the country, disguised as prescription drugs.