KCBD Investigates: Fentanyl warnings issued across the country

KCBD Investigates: Fentanyl warnings issued across the country
Source: KCBD Photo
Source: KCBD Photo

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The KCBD investigative team has worked for months to track the movement of fentanyl across the country.

The drug caught our attention in August, when WXIX, our sister station in Cincinnati, Ohio, reported an alarming number of overdoses.

WXIX said 96 heroin overdoses that resulted in three deaths were reported in just four days.

Law enforcement agencies started investigating if there was a batch of heroin going around. It turns out, the heroin was laced with other substances, like fentanyl.

"Just a few grains of salt, to give you an idea, is fatal," said Calvin Bond, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Fentanyl, in many cases, is not giving users a chance to become addicted, because it is killing them after just one use.

"It is more deadly than Ricin, so that will give you an idea that just a few grains of this fentanyl can be deadly to a man my size. It's a very scary, very scary thing," said U.S. Attorney John Parker.

The drug is not only proving to be dangerous for the users, it puts law enforcement and first responders at risk.

"We are having a problem across the U.S. with law enforcement officers not knowing they are dealing or touching fentanyl. They believe it might be cocaine or meth and they don't have the proper equipment on and they are overcome and passing out," Calvin said.

Often, users themselves do not know their batch of heroin is laced with the drug.

"These dealers know that the product they are putting out is extremely dangerous, extremely unsafe. They are preying on these addicts," said Mike Robison, the PIO for Hamilton County.

A few months ago, Cincinnati police issued a warning after they saw an outrageous spike in overdoses.

WXIX tried to cover all of the runs made in one night, but they could not keep up.

Heroin seized in one of the arrests was discovered to be mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil, a drug typically used to sedate zoo animals.

"It is a veterinary drug only for use in very large animals and unless you have a pet elephant, you really have no business having it," said Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammario.

It only takes about two milligrams of the drug to knock out a 2,000 pound elephant.

"It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is 100 times more potent than fentanyl," said Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram.

"Narcan may not save you on this one. Nasally applied narcan, which is available for heroin user's family to save their loved one in case of an emergency, that may not do it." Dr. Sammario said.

The KCBD investigative team has requested the number of people who have died in our area from fentanyl.

We'll continue to cover this story as we learn more.

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