Authorities in Ohio are warning drug users to be extra cautious, after law enforcement in the state seized fentanyl that had been pressed into pills meant to resemble oxycodone, which were to be sold on the street.
The Community Overdose Action Team, which focuses on reducing opioid-related deaths in Montgomery County, Ohio, said in a statement reported by the Dayton Daily News that drug users need to realize the dangers of fentanyl.
“The Community Overdose Action Team reminds you that any illegal drug you purchase and use could contain fentanyl,” the statement read. “Fentanyl is a highly potent drug which greatly increases your chance of an overdose. It is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.”
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Range Task Force and Dayton police also warned people that fentanyl is becoming widespread in Ohio’s drug supply.
Christine Ton, media director for the sheriff’s office, said that the blue pills even have the markings of oxycodone. Some people get the pills thinking they’re buying Oxycontin, while others seek out the fentanyl pills for a powerful, cheap high.
“It is more potent than heroin and cheaper to buy,” Ton said.
She added that the department seizes all varieties of drugs, not just opioids. “We routinely see meth, fentanyl, marijuana and are also running across cocaine. Crack and heroin are also located frequently.”
Benjamin Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said that his office is aggressively going after fentanyl-related cases as the drug becomes more prevalent.
“We are prosecuting more and more fentanyl-related narcotics-trafficking cases, both in Dayton and district-wide,” he said. “Fentanyl and its analogs are incredibly dangerous and are at the heart of the overdoses and deaths plaguing our region.”
Recently, The Washington Post reported that public health officials had pressured the Obama administration to declare fentanyl a national health emergency as far back as 2016, but the administration did not act. John P. Walters, who served as chief of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy between 2001 and 2009, said this likely contributed to the ever-increasing rate of fentanyl overdoses.
“This is a massive institutional failure, and I don’t think people have come to grips with it,” said Walters. “This is like an absurd bad dream and we don’t know how to intervene or how to save lives.”
Derek Maltz, former agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division in Washington, agreed that it was a missed opportunity to save lives.
“Fentanyl was killing people like we’d never seen before. A red light was going off, ding, ding, ding. This is something brand new. What the hell is going on? We needed a serious sense of urgency.”
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