(FOX 11) - The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more than 115 people die every day from overdosing on opioids. It is a national crisis that has gotten the attention of two famous federal agents. Former DEA agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena brought down a cocaine cartel -- and as Laura Diaz explains-- now they've shifted their focus to the battle against opioid addiction.
Steve Murphy and Javier Pena are larger than life characters in the War on Drugs. Just ask any fan of the gritty, hit show 'Narcos.'
These two American Drug Enforcement Special Agents brought down one of the most notorious Drug King Pins of modern times-- Pablo Escobar. Escobar ordered the murder of hundreds of people, and was regarded a 'Narco Terrorist.'
His domination of the violent Colombian cocaine trade in the 80's and 90's made him one of the wealthiest men in the world. And despite law enforcement's most dogged efforts - Escobar remained at large. Then along came Murphy and Pena.....
So mythological are the accomplishments of these lead investigators, that over the years Hollywood came a knocking to tell their story. But Murphy and Pena weren't looking for the limelight and turned down offers.
Eventually, executive producer Eric Newman convinced them their story needed to be told, ( and they were impressed with his credentials) so they finally relented. Their first person accounts of the manhunt told to a creative writing team --inspired the hit series 'Narcos' on Netflix.
It's been a few years since the high octane adventures of this duo found them running the streets of Medellin. But they are still very much a team.
They lecture to packed audiences around the world telling their story of pursuing and eventually bringing down Escobar. But they also use their celebrity to warn about the imminent dangers of counterfeit drugs and the opioid explosion. Murphy and Pena are quick to draw parallels between today's American drug war on opioids and the war fought on the blood stained streets of Colombia.
With a sense of urgency, they have sprung into action. A docu-series about the opioid problem is planned. They've joined forces with the "Partnership for Safe Medicines" to warn that even borrowing an aspirin from a friend is a bad idea.
It's not about your friend. He or she may not have gotten it from a sealed bottle. There is even nasal spray laced with lethal doses of fentanyl. The pusher's goal is to get people hooked, one way or another. And it's not like they are carefully mixing their poisonous fake meds. Even one grain of fentanyl can kill you. So forget about buying cheap meds from other countries or via the internet. Steve and Javier say those internet pharmacies that proudly display a Canadian flag are most often fronts for drug pushers somewhere in Asia.
They've testified before congress. And warn people of the dangers of ordering prescription drugs online, which may not cure you and sometimes can kill you.
These former DEA agents are also desperately trying to convince doctors and hospitals not to over prescribe opioids. As example, why does anyone need a month's worth of pills if they are having their wisdom teeth pulled? And real estate Open Houses are favorite spots for people to get high. Sellers are looking for ways to make their homes beautiful to sell, so chances are, they haven't thought up locking up the meds in their medicine cabinet.
These are just some of the issues that Steve and Javier are trying to get out to the general public. Look out for them.
They will be looking for you soon with a message of life and death.