Fentanyl is a powerful and potentially addictive synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. A small amount of fentanyl, just two milligrams, can result in overdose and potentially death. Fentanyl can be found in different forms, including pills, powder, and liquid, and is produced legally through the legal pharmaceutical market and illegally through the illicit drug market. Illicit fentanyl has been found in many drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, and cocaine. Fentanyl mixed with any drug increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Illicit fentanyl has also reportedly been produced in rainbow colors, potentially aimed at increasing consumption among users, especially young adults.
In 2022, and in response to the fentanyl epidemic, the California Legislature and the Governor approved appropriation for the creation of the California Department of Justice (DOJ), Division of Law Enforcement (DLE), Bureau of Investigation’s (BI) Fentanyl Enforcement Program (FEP).
FEP works with local and federal law enforcement partners throughout the state to address the fentanyl crisis and get these dangerous drugs off California’s streets. The program is comprised of BI regional investigative teams placed in San Diego, Los Angeles, Dublin and Sacramento. A Special Agent in Charge serves as the program manager and each team has a Special Agent Supervisor, five Special Agents, a Staff Services Analyst and a Crime Analyst I. Through collaboration with existing BI Task Forces, the FEP targets major fentanyl-trafficking criminal networks. The program leverages existing BI Task Forces, local and federal law enforcement partnerships, to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks. The Bureau of Investigation has the unique expertise, state-wide perspective and vertical prosecution model to impact fentanyl-trafficking criminal networks.