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DEA warns of ‘alarming increase’ in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl

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DEA warns of ‘alarming increase’ in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl

FILE – This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A Public Safety Alert issued Monday in Washington, D.C., warns of the “alarming increase” of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. The pills are sometimes deadly, and are being mass-produced by criminal drug networks.

The alert, the first issued by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in six years, says 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. The agency warns that the pills have been seized in every U.S. state in “unprecedented quantities.”

DEA testing indicates a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl – which is considered a deadly dose and could fit on the tip of a pencil.

“The United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of overdose deaths fueled by illegally manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Anne Milgram, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “In fact, DEA lab analyses reveal that two out of every five fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose … Today, we are alerting the public to this danger so that people have the information they need to protect themselves and their children.”

According to the news release, the counterfeit pills often look like real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall). Fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms – making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.

Most of the counterfeit pills brought into the United States are produced in Mexico, and China is supplying chemicals for the manufacturing of fentanyl in Mexico, according to the DEA.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid most commonly found in counterfeit pills, is the primary driver of this alarming increase in overdose deaths. Drug poisonings involving methamphetamine, increasingly found to be pressed into counterfeit pills, also continue to rise as illegal pills containing methamphetamine become more widespread.

Drug trafficking is linked to violence. So far in 2021, DEA has seized more than 2,700 firearms in connection with drug trafficking investigations – a 30% increase since 2019.

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Kickin’ It with Kiz: Life lesson college football coaches teach players? Always look out for No. 1.

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Kickin’ It with Kiz: Life lesson college football coaches teach players? Always look out for No. 1.

College football coaches just dump kids and their programs like snake-oil salesmen running out of town.

Fred, independent thinker

Kiz: There will be no tears shed here for Oklahoma losing coach Lincoln Riley to USC or Brian Kelly abandoning Notre Dame for Louisiana State. Can’t blame them for chasing the dream and the green. Ain’t that America? But maybe we should dispense with the balderdash about football coaches being employed to teach life lessons to players, unless the lesson is: Always look out for No. 1. In the case of Kelly, his interest in molding the minds of young men is as phony as the hilariously bad southern accent he adopted when introducing himself to LSU fans at a basketball game in Baton Rouge.

Any rational person marked this game in Kanas City as a loss for the Broncos as soon as the NFL schedule was released. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but it’s fanciful to think Denver’s path to the playoffs goes through K.C. Now, when the Chiefs come to Denver at the end of the season … maybe.

Mr. U, tough cowboy

Kiz: While the Broncos will be 9.5-point underdogs on “Sunday Night Football,” the best reason to believe they have a shot to beat Kansas City? Quarterback Patrick Mahomes can still wing it, but he has lost his Midas touch. K.C. has scored more than 20 points only once in its last five games. Fearless prediction: Although the losing streak will reach 12, the Broncos will end their misery against the Chiefs on the final weekend on the regular season, and that victory just might be enough to earn Denver a playoff berth.

This is why Michael Porter Jr fell to the Nuggets in the NBA draft. There were so many warning signs, and bad backs don’t go away.

Brad, easy rider

Kiz: As the 24-year-old forward recovers from the third surgery on his back, we wish him well. But if MPJ is ever again the player that got Nuggets Nation dreaming about finally bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to this dusty old cowtown, it will be a minor medical miracle.

Major League Baseball wants us to think it cares about the competitiveness and quality of the sport, then puts Rockies owner Dick Monfort as one of the lead negotiators for the owners in their labor dispute with players. Makes sense to me!

Andrew, wee bit sarcastic

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Week 13 NFL Picks: AFC East lead on the line when Patriots visit Bills on Monday night

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Week 13 NFL Picks: AFC East lead on the line when Patriots visit Bills on Monday night

Game of the week

New England at Buffalo

The Patriots are a 2 1/2-point underdog Monday night despite a six-game winning streak in which they have allowed more than 13 points just once. But Buffalo, which has alternated wins and losses over the last six weeks, plays with urgency and ties the Patriots in the AFC East.

Bills 20, Patriots 17

Lock of the week

Washington at Las Vegas

Not a kind schedule for WFT, which beat Seattle and has to travel cross country on a short week while the Raiders were last seen stunning Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Raiders are a 2 1/2-point favorite and move to 7-5 behind Derek Carr’s three touchdown passes.

Raiders 34, Washington 20

Upset of the week

N.Y. Giants at Miami

A lot of big point-spreads so not a lot of choices for straight upsets, but we’ll go with the Giants, who are a 4 1/2-point underdog. Big Blue is expected to be without injured quarterback Daniel Jones so it will be the defense that carries the day and ends the Dolphins’ four-game winning streak.

Giants 13, Dolphins 10


Around the AFC: New England cornerback J.C. Jackson’s price rising with each interception

John Bazemore, The Associated Press

New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson celebrates after an interception in the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.

Impressive Bengals. Cincinnati has rebounded to beat Las Vegas by 19 and Pittsburgh by 31 points since its bye week and among the most impressive Bengals statistics is their discipline/fundamentals. The Bengals have an NFL-low 43 penalties, nine fewer than any other team and a whopping 37 fewer than seven teams. Cincinnati (7-4), which hosts the Chargers (6-5) on Sunday, have been streaky with three two-game winning streaks. If they beat the Bolts, the Bengals will have their first three-game winning streak since starting 2015 with eight consecutive victories. Cincinnati-Broncos in Week 15 is looming as an intriguing showdown.

Missing Henry. Titans running back Derrick Henry’s worth to his team, already documented and significant, has been amplified since he injured his foot Oct. 31 at Indianapolis. Despite missing the last four games, Henry still leads the NFL in carries (219) and is second in yards (937) and third in touchdowns (10). Tennessee, which is off this week, eclipsed 30 points five times in Henry’s eight games, but have managed 28, 23, 13 and 13 points during his absence (2-2 record); it lost at home to Houston and was routed at New England the last two weeks. Fortunately for Tennessee (8-4), it leads the AFC South by 2 1/2 games and holds the tie-breaker over Indianapolis via the series sweep.

Jackson’s price rising. New England cornerback J.C. Jackson is one of the league’s top bargains this year, playing on the second-round restricted free agent tender of $3.384 million. He might make five times that in 2022 via either franchise tag/long-term deal from the Patriots or hitting the open market. Jackson’s 24 interceptions (seven this year, second-most in the league) are the third-most by a player in his first four years since the 1970 merger. The first-place Patriots face Buffalo’s second-ranked scoring offense (29.6 points per game) on Monday.


Around the NFC: Rams’ veteran stars aren’t playing like it during losing streak

Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford warms ...

Aaron Gash, The Associated Press

Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.

Reeling Rams. The Rams (7-4) are still looking for their first win since getting outside linebacker Von Miller and receiver Odell Beckham on the field (0-2). Sunday is a must win against Jacksonville because Los Angeles’ next four games are at Arizona, vs. Seattle, at Minnesota and at Baltimore. Quarterback Matthew Stafford needs to play better for the Rams to have any chance in the playoffs, likely as an on-the-road wild card. During the three-game losing streak, Stafford’s passer ratings have been 71.0, 67.4 and 96.6. The passing game misses Robert Woods, who had 45 catches in eight games before sustaining a torn ACL.

Brady rolls on. Can a defending Super Bowl champion be quietly lurking? We say yes about Tampa Bay, which is 8-3 and third in the NFC behind Arizona (9-2) and Green Bay (9-3). The Buccaneers are 23rd in rushing (95.8 yards per game), but first in passing (305.9). Quarterback Tom Brady, 44, continues to defeat Father Time. He enters Week 13 leading the league in pass attempts (457), completions (309) and touchdowns (30) and second in yards (3,403). The extra regular season game should allow Brady to eclipse 40 touchdowns for the first time since 2007 (50).

49ers surging. Like the Broncos, San Francisco has recovered from an early-season four-game losing streak. The 49ers were 3-5 after losing at home to Arizona in Week 9, but have beat the Rams, Jacksonville and Minnesota by 21, 20, and eight points, respectively. The 49ers (6-5) hold the sixth playoff spot heading to dreadful Seattle (3-8). Sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell is another find by veteran running backs coach Bobby Turner and Co. Mitchell carried 27 times apiece in wins over the Rams (91 yards) and Vikings (133 yards). The 49ers have four of their final six games on the road, including Cincinnati and Tennessee.

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Column: Trevis Gipson has a big opportunity the rest of the season to prove he can be an edge rusher the Chicago Bears can build around

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Column: Trevis Gipson has a big opportunity the rest of the season to prove he can be an edge rusher the Chicago Bears can build around

Justin Fields’ performance in the stretch run of the season will set the tone in terms of what the Chicago Bears roster looks like going forward.

Complicating that is the rib injury he suffered Nov. 21 during the aggravating 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Fields missed the Thanksgiving Day victory in Detroit and Andy Dalton is set to start again Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field.

If you are compiling a list of young players not named Fields in position to offer hope for the future, start with outside linebacker Trevis Gipson.

The 2020 fourth-round pick hasn’t gotten the attention given to wide receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, offensive tackles Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins or even running back Khalil Herbert, but Gipson is a player the Bears need to take a large step forward in the final six games. The others, of course, have carved out niches for themselves or are working to do that.

Gipson has flashed on occasion and now with 17 games of experience entering Sunday, it’s time for him to show if he can push for a starting position in 2022 or if he’ll be a reserve the team is looking to replace. What’s ahead for Gipson is unlimited opportunity with Khalil Mack out for the season with a left foot injury and Jeremiah Attaochu previously sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle.

The defense sacked Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley six times and Gipson had one, giving him three for the season. He followed that up by punching the ball out of the clutch of Lions quarterback Jared Goff before securing the ball.

There’s no way to overstate what the remainder of the season means to him. The stakes are raised and he knows it.

“It promises me a lot of opportunities,” Gipson said. “But if I don’t take advantage of the first one, then the rest won’t come. I’m just focused on taking advantage of that, obviously praying for Khalil hoping he comes back healthy.”

The Bears have Mack, 30, under contract through 2024 and while they could create $6 million in salary cap savings during the offseason by moving on from the six-time Pro Bowl selection, a long conversation would need to be had before heading down that path. Multiple restructures of his contract have driven up his 2022 cap hit to $30.15 million. The Bears would have a $24 million cap hit without Mack, so for the difference of $6 million he could anchor the defense for another season unless the team gets more in a trade than most imagine he’d bring.

Robert Quinn was named NFC defensive player of the month for November for having 5½ of his 11 sacks and he has become everything the Bears hoped he would be last season. The 31-year-old is set to earn $12.9 million in 2022. If the Bears have a roster in transition next season, it’s difficult to imagine they will pay two pass rushers over the age of 30, but that decision is a couple months off.

The franchise has spent two decades paying for pass rushers. Since 2000, only two drafted edge rushers have produced eight sacks in a season. Rosevelt Colvin, a fourth-round pick in 1999, had 10½ sacks in 2001 and 2002 before exiting in free agency. Mark Anderson, a fifth-round pick in 2006, had 12 sacks as a rookie but only 9½ in his next 50 games before being released in 2010.

The Bears consistently have paid players to spearhead the pass rush, acquiring and then extending players such as Phillip Daniels, Adewale Ogunleye, Julius Peppers, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee, Mack and most recently Quinn. Young was the best value addition of the group by former general manager Phil Emery and most of the players on that list provided what the Bears were seeking. But it’s an expensive proposition to buy a pass rush, and time and again it has limited the organization from adding key offensive pieces.

The Bears were without a pick in the fourth round of the 2020 draft when Gipson was sitting on the board. The Bears deemed him worth getting, leading to a rare in-division trade with the Minnesota Vikings to add a pick and select him.

With a shortened training camp and no preseason during his rookie season, he made a slow adjustment to playing on his feet and not with a hand in the dirt as a defensive end like he was accustomed to at Tulsa. Gipson showed progress this summer and now he’s getting more action than he could have expected with Quinn missing time because of COVID-19 and Mack sidelined.

Gipson has been on the field for 48% of the defensive snaps but has been at 69% over the last five games. He has shown the ability to defeat pass blockers and needs to do it on a more consistent basis with five tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and the recovery against Goff.

Here’s a look at his three sacks this season.

Week 4 vs. Lions

Gipson does a really nice job of setting up Lions’ first-round pick Penei Sewell, starting at left tackle in place of Taylor Decker, by taking him vertically upfield off the ball. Gipson forces Sewell to widen in his set, opening the door to beat him inside. It’s a schemed one-on-one, a simulated pressure from the Bears bringing three to that side. The left guard has to account for blitzing linebacker Roquan Smith, the back is releasing because it’s only a four-man rush, so it’s a true one-on-one versus Sewell. Gipson makes him set vertically and then goes to the inside with a quick swim move, pins the inside arm of Sewell to remove it and beats him. It’s a good athletic play. Goff feels the pressure and tries to spin out but Gipson is in position to get him down.

Week 5 at Raiders

Las Vegas goes with max protection using 12-personnel to take a play-action shot downfield with a two-man route. The Bears are only rushing four and the Raiders have eight in to block, but because of the way the line is sliding Gipson gets a one-on-one versus tight end Foster Moreau. This isa power move with active hands. Moreau trips a little bit but not until after Gipson is bending him back to create a path to the quarterback. He shows the burst to close on Derek Carr.

Week 11 vs. Ravens

Coming out of a two-point stance on the defensive left side, Gipson wins with a classic pass rush move. Right tackle Patrick Mekari sets deep in the second-and-15 situation. Gipson presses Mekari upfield and forces him to open his hips. This creates a situation in which Gipson has to bend, turn the corner and flatten to get to Huntley, preventing Mekari from running him upfield. Gipson does a good job dropping his anchor and bending, he has to rip, change levels and get through Mekari and he does a good job to get home to Huntley.

The signs are there that Gipson has the ability. The Bears have a major hole without Mack, something defensive coordinator Sean Desai has to scheme around on a weekly basis. That’s not a knock on Gipson, who is getting the chance to evolve his game.

“It’s a great opportunity given where that room is going,” Desai said. “He is continuing to develop. You’ve seen spurts of him getting better with his hands at the point of attack, his conversions in the pass rush, stuff that (outside linebackers coach Bill) Shuey has been working on and emphasizing with him. He’s straining his body and mind to try to improve on those.

“And it’s still a process. He’s not where he wants to be and I don’t think he’s where we want him to be. But he’s still a young player who hasn’t played a lot of football snaps in this league. We’ve got to make sure that we develop him and build him up to our standard.”

If Gipson plays well — if he can begin accumulating more impact plays — the Bears can gain confidence that a young player is beginning to ascend. If not, they’re going to have to continue paying top dollar, one way or another, for edge rushers.

Scouting report

Budda Baker, Cardinals free safety

Information for this report was obtained from NFL scouts.

Budda Baker, 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, is in his fifth season in Arizona after the Cardinals made him a second-round pick in 2017 out of Washington. Baker, a captain, is fourth on the defense with 41 solo tackles and has two interceptions and three pass breakups.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection (once on special teams), the Cardinals extended Baker before the start of the 2020 season, a deal that places him fourth among safeties in the league with an annual average of $14.75 million, just above the Bears’ Eddie Jackson.

“They’ve been mixing man and zone this season but the last few weeks they’ve been more zone heavy,” the scout said. “That could be based on tendency and who they are playing against. They’ve been good on both. That was a big concern about this team coming into the season, did they have the corners to play as much man because (coordinator) Vance Joseph is a heavy man-pressure coach, but they’ve done that and Budda Baker really helps them do both.

“It’s not always perfect with him but he plays with urgency. He’s at top speed all the time and he is a game changer for them because he can fill the alley versus the run, he can blitz, check tight ends and he can drive top down on the ball. He’s got enough range to spin him to the post. He’s got multidimensional traits but when you turn on the tape, the thing that always jumps out is he’s playing faster than everyone else.

“Everyone in the NFL can run so why is this guy always a step ahead of everyone? I think he sees it faster than everyone else and when he goes there, if you’re a ball carrier, he’s going to thump you too. He’s an excellent tackler, he’s a good tackler in space and what he ultimately is for Arizona is a tone setter. If you’re a wide receiver coming across the middle of the field or a running back bouncing the ball outside the tackles, you better get your pads low.

“He doesn’t have the same playmaking traits of Eddie Jackson or the same fluid range, but his lateral speed is better and his closing speed is better and he’s more than a willing tackler. He wants to drop the hammer. You can build a secondary around that. He dictates the tempo of the game.”

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