To the Editor, 

Fentanyl is cheap to produce, easy to disguise as prescription or over-the-counter pills, and can be deadly in doses small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil. Cartels have harnessed the power of social media to sell this deadly drug, leaving our kids in danger. In fact, one pill can kill.

I will never forget the story of Minnesota teenager Anastasia Shevtsova. She was struggling with depression when she bought four fentanyl-laced pills over Snapchat that killed her. Anastasia was not a drug user. She was only 15 years old—not even old enough to drive a car by herself or go to her senior prom.

Anastasia’s story is sadly too common. When Devin Norring, a 19-year-old in Hastings, was suffering from dental pain and debilitating migraines, he bought what he believed was Percocet to feel better. The pill he bought was laced with fentanyl, and it killed him.

In our increasingly digital world, drug trafficking doesn’t only happen in alleys or on street corners. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated 390 drug overdose cases and found that a third of them had direct ties to social media. Anastasia and Devin’s tragic stories make it clear – illegal drugs are being sold online on social media platforms, and children and teenagers are especially vulnerable. Kids can sit quietly in their rooms and use social media to buy deadly drugs. Today, anyone with a smartphone is a drug dealer’s potential target.  

In 2021, Minnesota had a record number of deaths from opioid overdoses. Over 90 percent of those deaths were related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl – a four-fold increase from 2018. Hundreds more Minnesotans died from opioid overdoses than from car crashes. That’s an average of more than two lives lost every day.

Social media has been a gateway to drugs for too many kids, and we must meet this threat with the all-hands-on-deck response it requires. That is why I am leading and cosponsoring several bipartisan bills to crack down on online drug dealing, including legislation to hold social media companies accountable by requiring them to report drug trafficking on their platforms to law enforcement. This will help law enforcement crack down on illegal drug sales and protect kids.

Ending the fentanyl crisis also means halting the flow of fentanyl before it ever reaches our country. Earlier this year I worked to pass the bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act in the Senate, which would officially declare international fentanyl trafficking a national emergency and provide new authorities to impose tough sanctions on transnational criminal organizations in China, Mexico, or any other fentanyl supply chain hub. And in 2018, we passed my bipartisan legislation to crack down on international fentanyl and synthetic drug shipments being smuggled into the U.S. through the mail.

I am also fighting to get cutting-edge technology to detect and intercept fentanyl to our borders and bolster federal law enforcement’s ability to investigate online fentanyl trafficking. These tools are important, but we also need more funding for law enforcement. That’s why I lead bipartisan legislation to hire and retain more law enforcement officers. 

Fentanyl isn’t just a threat to those struggling with addiction. It’s a threat to anyone who – maybe in a moment of pain or peer pressure – takes a single pill laced with this deadly drug. For overdose victims and their families, these fleeting moments can have permanent, tragic consequences. I don’t want any more families to know this pain. On my part, I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to tackle the scourge of fentanyl and keep our kids safe, but everyone should pass on to their kids, grandkids, neighbors, and families that “one pill kills.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar

US Senate