TYLER, Texas (KETK) — According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl has become more popular in the illegal drug market due to how cheap it is to buy. That’s why it’s sticking around and getting closer to home every day.

“Fentanyl by far is the most deadliest drug threat facing our area,” said Special Agent Eduardo Chavez, DEA, Dallas Field Division.

Fentanyl is an opioid and the drug dealers making the dangerous street form of the substance have started adding it to other drugs, but there is no quality control on the amount being mixed in which can be deadly to an unknowing user.

“It’s really hit the north and East Texas area over the last 18 to 24 months,” said Chavez.

A legal medical dose of fentanyl is measured in micrograms. It takes 1,000 micrograms to make a milligram. Experts say that two milligrams are enough to be lethal.

In its legal medical use, fentanyl is used to treat severe pain, related to surgery or complex pain conditions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Six out of 10 pills that are found on the street today contain more than two milligrams,” said Special Agent Chavez. That is more than the amount that a dose needs to be lethal.

Officials say the pure form of fentanyl is being manufactured in China and sent to cartels in Mexico in powder form. The illegal form is then created in street labs. Chavez is in charge of the DEA’S Dallas field office and said it makes it hard to know how much is being added to the pills.

“A lot of Mexican drug trafficking organizations are then pressing them into pills that again resemble a lot of these pharmaceuticals,” said Chavez.

The cartel or other drug dealers are then taking the pills, made to look like your everyday medication, across the border and selling them. Chavez said it’s mostly done on social media because they can stay anonymous and appeal to more vulnerable groups like the youth.

The DEA’s One Pill Can Kill campaign provided a side-by-side comparison of several counterfeit pills, click here for more information.

“It opens that door to potential traffickers who are offering these pills on social media to walk in and potentially offer you some,” said Chavez.

The problem is fentanyl is highly addictive. Special Agent Chavez believes the best way we can stop the issue starts with early conversations at home. He added that the DEA is working with our law enforcement to get fentanyl off the streets.

“It’s a community effort from churches to schools to community organizations to educate, to provide resources,” said Chavez.

Chavez said the best way to keep you and your family safe is to educate yourself. Drug dealers are now even using special emoji codes to sell these drugs through text messages or social media. Emojis like a pill or a blue dot can be used to describe Oxycodone or Percocet while a chocolate bar or school bus are sometimes used to describe as Xanax.

For parents and caregivers looking to find more information about the fake pills, click here. For the Spanish version, click here.