DEA releases list of emojis teens are using as code to buy drugs

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning parents that teenagers are using emojis as code to buy drugs online. ABC News' Karen Travers reports on what parents should look out for.
1:40 | 05/23/22

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Transcript for DEA releases list of emojis teens are using as code to buy drugs
KAREN TRAVERS: Emojis we use them every day in our text messages and social media posts. But kids often have their own meanings for these symbols that go right over adults' heads. The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning parents that teens are using emojis as code to buy drugs from sellers online. - So what you might see is an electrical plug followed by a school bus. What in the world would that be? That would be someone looking for a source for a Xanax pill. KAREN TRAVERS: Bill Bodner, Special Agent in charge at the Los Angeles DEA office says the trend became more prevalent during the pandemic. Drug transactions shifted from bars and nightclubs to online. - Our fear was especially to parents. Parents might see a lot of these emojis and really think nothing of them. They look so innocent and it could be something indicative of an attempt to buy drugs. KAREN TRAVERS: Bodner's biggest concern-- counterfeit pills. BILL BODNER: All the pills you're going to buy now on social media or on the street are counterfeit prescription drugs. They're not the real thing. KAREN TRAVERS: Bodner says the active ingredient in many of the counterfeit pills is fentanyl. - It's a drug that's 50 times more powerful than heroin. We're seeing it everywhere. We've made counterfeit pills seizures, fentanyl pills seizures in every state in the United States. It's impacting every community. KAREN TRAVERS: Bodner stresses that parents need to have conversations with their kids about the implicit danger of these pills. - The dosing is very inconsistent. And it could just be one pill that causes an overdose death. KAREN TRAVERS: Parents who think their teen might be using drugs should look out for changes in behavior. You can find helpful resources at dea.gov/onepill. - A great place to start to educate yourself if you're a parent about what's out there and about how to have the conversation with your child. KAREN TRAVERS: Karen Travers, ABC News, Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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