As the U.S. deals with its deadliest overdose crisis to date, a national crime-prevention group is calling on the Justice Department to clamp down on social media’s role in the spread of fentanyl, the drug largely driving a troubling spike in overdose deaths among teenagers.
The National Crime Prevention Council sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling for an investigation. The group known for ads featuring McGruff the Crime Dog is especially concerned about the sale of fake pills laced with fentanyl on Snapchat, a popular platform among teens.
“Drug dealers are using American innovation to sell lethal products,” executive director Paul DePonte wrote. “Social media platforms bear some responsibility for these deaths.”
Overdose deaths in the U.S. hit a record last year, with an average of one death every five minutes in the U.S. Among teens ages 10 to 19, deaths spiked 109% between 2019 and 2021, according to monthly median data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of those deaths, 84%, involved fentanyl, according to the report released last week.