BURLINGTON, NC – Apache, China White (Girl), Friend, TNT, Murder 8. No, this isn’t a list of new shows to stream online. They’re street names for a potent drug, literally, finding its way onto the streets of Alamance County.
Fentanyl, a man-made opioid; a prescription typically used for people trying to manage pain after surgeries. The drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is available in pill and patch form. And drugs dealers are making a living off the highly addictive narcotic.
“Heroin and cocaine are addictive by itself but when you add the fentanyl to it, it’s more potent,” said Sergeant Todd Long with the Alamance Narcotics Enforcement Team (ANET.) “It gives a feeling of euphoria when the person takes it.”
In the last month, on three separate occasions, dozens and dozens of bags heroin and/or cocaine mixed with fentanyl were found resting in the streets. The first day of September, $40,000 worth of heroin/fentanyl mix was found on Eldermont Street in Burlington. On September 14th, 97 bags of fentanyl, possibly a heroin mixture as well, were found at Gus’s Drive-In on Chapel Hill Road. Two days later, more bags, testing positive for cocaine and fentanyl were found on the corner of Piedmont and Main Street in Gibsonville.
Is it drug dealers being careless or someone deliberately leaving the powdery substances for someone to find?
“It is odd. Obviously, there are reasons why it’s being left there, which is under investigation,” said Long.
So far, no arrests have been made in connection to the drugs left out in the open. So, no information on who left it in the streets or why. But, Long explained where it’s coming from.
“The things that are at hand right now are prescriptions,” said Long. “People are getting prescriptions and either selling it or trading it for some type of drug and then it’s being cut with the heroin and the cocaine and distributed onto the streets.”
The DEA reported fentanyl is often stolen from pharmacies, nursing homes and other long-term facilities. In addition, large amount of fentanyl are being mass produced and shipped from China and Mexico.
So why is it such a scary drug and why are we hearing about it more and more? Long said adding fentanyl to cocaine and heroin is not new.
Abuse of fentanyl, according to the DEA, started in the 1970. In 2011, over 20,000 people visited an ER because of fentanyl abuse.
“Fentanyl adds more of a chance to overdose quickly,” said Long. “A lot of people roll the dice when they put this type of stuff into their body.”
The highly potent drug is easily absorbed in the skin. Long said he and his detectives practice caution when handling fentanyl.
“When we come up on a situation, obviously we don’t want to ingest it, meaning inhale it into our system because it can cause respiratory distress, meaning slowly your breathing down almost to the point where you die,” Long explained “That’s the severe effect. But it can cause labored breathing and even death.”
In April, pop icon, Prince, overdosed on fentanyl. Pills seized at his home were labeled as hydrocodone, bet were actually fentanyl. It remains unclear if the drugs were mislabeled by a company or intentionally mislabeled on the streets.
Copyright 2016 WFMY