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

DEA cracks down on social media fentanyl sales
DEA cracks down on social media fentanyl sales as overdose deaths in teens rise 02:28

Landen Hausman, a high school sophomore, died in January after buying fentanyl-laced Percocet 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," his father Marc Hausman told CBS News. 

Hausman said his son probably did not recognize that counterfeit Percocet could 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 one [in his bedroom]." 

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

The Drug Enforcement Administration says it is investigating more than 120 cases that involve social media. The agency has issued a warning about emoji code language dealers use to target young buyers. 

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

"No longer are we talking about meeting on the street and making that connection," Monaco told CBS News. "The dealer is in your kid's pocket along with the phone." 

Monaco said many who die "are unsuspecting users thinking they're getting one thing and they're getting something else in the form of fentanyl." 

"So those really that's not actually an overdose," she said. "That's a poisoning." 

Monaco also said the Justice Department is pushing social media companies to crack down on dealers, calling the crisis "a national security issue, "a public safety issue" and "a public health issue." 

"We're asking them to do more," she said. "They need to do more. They need to be policing their platforms. … They need to use, quite frankly, the same tools and the technology that allows them to exquisitely serve up those ads for all sorts of things that we're buying online and identify those drug dealers and getting them off." 

The dealer who sold the fake Percocet to Landen is facing federal charges, but for Hausman, just one arrest isn't enough. 

"I don't know who this dealer is. I really don't care," he said. "So for me, justice is, I can't go back and change what happened. But what I can do is try to do everything possible so maybe this doesn't happen to someone else." 

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