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Senior Justice Department official calls on social media companies to do more as teens die from fentanyl

Landen Hausman, a high school sophomore, died in January after purchasing Percocet with fentanyl through a dealer on social media. His family found him collapsed on the bathroom floor and tried to revive him with CPR, but it was too late.

“Sometimes with fentanyl you don’t get a second chance,” her father, Marc Hausman, told CBS News.

Hausman said her son probably didn’t recognize that the counterfeit Percocet might be laced with fentanyl.

“He basically bought two of these counterfeit Percocet pills,” Hausman said. “He took one. One killed him. We found the other [in his bedroom].”

Unfortunately, Landen’s story is all too common. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died from fentanyl, more deaths than Americans killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined. Deaths among teens have more than tripled since 2019.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says it is investigating more than 120 cases involving social media. The agency has issued a warning about emoji code language used by distributors to target young buyers.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who oversees the DEA, says fentanyl is the agency’s top priority.

“We’re no longer talking about meeting on the street and making that connection,” Monaco told CBS News. “The dealer is in your son’s pocket along with the phone.”

Monaco said many of those who die “are unsuspecting users who think they’re getting one thing and getting another in the form of fentanyl.”

“So that’s really not an overdose,” he said. “That’s a poisoning.”

Monaco also said the Justice Department is pressing social media companies to crack down on traffickers, calling the crisis “a national security issue,” “a public safety issue” and “a public health issue.” public”.

“We are asking them to do more,” he said. “They need to do more. They need to be watching their platforms… They need to use, frankly, the same tools and technology that allow them to exquisitely display those ads for all sorts of things that we’re buying online.” and identify those drug dealers and get them out.”

The dealer who sold Landen the fake Percocet is facing federal charges, but for Hausman, one arrest is not enough.

“I don’t know who this dealer is. I really don’t care,” he said. “So for me, fairness is that I can’t go back and change what happened. But what I can do is try to do as much as possible so that maybe this doesn’t happen to someone else.”

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