FLINT TWP. — In late September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a public warning to the public and to law enforcement nationwide about the health and safety risks of carfentanil, after linking the synthetic drug to a significant number of overdose deaths in various parts of the country.
There have been several reports in Genesee County but none yet in Flint Township, said Township Police Chief George Sippert.
Carfentanil, originally manufactured to tranquilize elephants and other large zoo animals, gained nationwide attention this summer. The drug, which replaced fentanyl as the highest-potency opiate for human use on the market, was being mixed with heroin by drug dealers. In Western Pennsylvania, over 200 overdoses with 20 being fatal were linked to carfentanil.
A series of similar overdoses were reported in Ohio, Florida and Kentucky this year. Now, the drug is becoming a concern for law enforcement officials in Michigan. The Wayne County medical examiner said carfentanil was linked to at least 19 deaths between July and October there.
Detective First Lieutenant Patrick D. Richard, who heads Flint Area Narcotics Group (FANG) said in eight of the cases in which his agency seized heroin in Genesee County this year through the middle of October the drugs have had carfentanil in them. He and other local law enforcement authorities fear these numbers will continue to grow.
“Drug dealers don’t care about you or your family. If the drugs they sell hurt or even kill you, they will just keep selling their illegal drugs to make more money.” Richard said.
His agency focuses on four main types of drugs: heroin, opiates, cocaine and crack cocaine and methamphetamines. The state police have determined that those are the four through the state-wide drug enforcement strategy. “Those are the four most abused and dangerous drugs,” Richard said.
Richard said heroin seizures in his agency have increased 67% within the fiscal year. “The price of heroin is cheap. There’s a lot of heroin on the street and it’s in high demand,” he said.
Richard said when people buy from drug dealers, they don’t know what they’re getting. He said drug dealers aren’t scientists making drugs in a controlled environment like a laboratory and there’s no consistency in the drugs they give to people. “They don’t know the potency of the drugs they give to people. They mix it in their kitchens often,” he said.
As little as a 10 mg. dose of carfentanil could sedate or even kill an elephant. Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It’s 100 times stronger than fentanyl, the drug associated with the death of pop star Prince. It only takes one microgram of carfentanil to have an effect on humans.
One danger of carfentanil is it’s practically impossible to detect. It’s a clear liquid with no distinguishable odor.
According to the DEA, Carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds pose a serious danger to public safety, first responders, medical, treatment, and laboratory personnel. These substances come in several forms including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray that can be absorbed through the skin or accidental inhalation of airborne powder.
Some heroin users who have built a tolerance to the drug, are looking to intensify its effect with carfentanil. Many times, however, users don’t know drug dealers are mixing carfentanil with heroin to stretch their supply.
FANG employs officers from several agencies, including the Flint Township Police Department. FANG’s mission is to stop mid to upper level drug dealers. The agency recently met with the Genesee County Small Cities and Village Association and discussed the drug.
Gary Peppin, chairman of the Genesee County Small Cities and Village Association and a Davison city councilman said it is important to stay on top of this issue and keep Genesee County a safe place for citizens.
More information about fentanyl, carfentanil and other dangerous synthetic opiates can be found at www.dea. gov. — Flint Township Reporter Rhonda Sanders contributed to this report