DEA Confiscated More Than 639,000 Fentanyl Pills and 189 pounds of Fentanyl Powder in the DMV in 2023

Per the DEA: “The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division, which covers the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) confiscated more than 639,000 fentanyl pills and 189 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2023.

This amount represents more than a three-fold increase in the number of fake pills laced with fentanyl seized in 2022 (180,100).

Illicit opioids, which include synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, are widely available throughout the DEA Washington Division area of responsibility. Maryland recorded the largest increase in fentanyl pill seizures with 132,000 pills, a 471 percent increase over 2022 totals. Virginia seized over 415,300 pills in 2023, which was a 260 percent increase from the previous year. The number of pills seized in the District of Columbia increased by nearly 60 percent, from 17,500 in 2022 to 27,600 in 2023.


The distribution of illegal opioids is attributed to local gangs and drug traffickers who maintain connections with the Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels in Mexico. The drugs are transported into our area by parcel delivery services, tractor trailers, and personal or rental vehicles. They most often arrive directly from California and other southern border states, although Georgia, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania also serve as source areas.

In calendar year 2023, DEA seized more than 77 million fentanyl pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder nationwide. This is the most fentanyl seized by DEA in a single year. It amounts to more than 386 million deadly doses of fentanyl–enough to kill every American. (Year in Review: DEA Innovates to Fight Fentanyl.)


The division recorded a 119 percent increase in methamphetamine seizures with the most significant occurring in Virginia.  Methamphetamine is less frequently encountered in Washington, DC, and Maryland, but is becoming increasingly popular in the Baltimore and Hagerstown, MD areas.  The Mexican Cartels supply the methamphetamine and utilize the same trafficking methods identified above.





Furthermore, the DEA Washington Division has taken a proactive approach by engaging in hundreds of community events to raise awareness on the dangers of substance misuse and abuse throughout the DMV area. The “One Pill Can Kill” campaign has been the focal point of these events, aimed at parents, caregivers, teachers, and students. DEA’s Operation Engage initiative has had a significant impact on the children of the District of Columbia, through school engagement and community outreach events.  By bridging public health and public safety, this approach has employed prevention strategies and facilitated collaboration with local partners to combat the fentanyl poisoning epidemic. In addition, the Washington Division hosted its second Family Summit in October, providing support for those who had lost loved ones to fentanyl poisoning in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia while continuing to bring awareness to this crisis.


In 2023, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration marked its 50th anniversary as the only federal agency dedicated to fighting deadly drugs and drug-related violence.  This milestone celebrated a half century of dedication to fighting drug trafficking in the United States and around the world, which threatens the public safety, health, and national security of our nation.  DEA also ushered in a transformation of DEA’s organization and strategy to meet this extraordinary moment in time as the United States confronts the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced – fentanyl.

DEA reminds everyone that legitimate pharmaceutical pills cannot be bought on social media. The only safe medications are those prescribed directly by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. For additional information and resources, including our Caregivers Fact Sheet, visit


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