Local law enforcement sounds the alarm about fentanyl

Keeping the deadly opioid off the streets is top priority for local law enforcers

LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – It is called the deadliest drug threat in this country, and fentanyl is being illegally sold throughout Northeast Mississippi.

“Last year we were very heavy on gun violence, this year our number one priority is to combat fentanyl, because statistics show we’re going to have more people die in Tupelo this year from fentanyl than from gun violence,” said Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka.

That’s one reason Chief Quaka said drug busts like one earlier this month are crucial. Police seized more than 10,000 suspected fentanyl tablets, allegedly being sold out of a barbershop.

“10,000 pills is a lot, it is not normal, however, it is starting to become the norm, we’re starting to see larger seizures of narcotics on the streets,” Quaka said.

Quaka said fentanyl, an opioid used for pain relief, is becoming one of the most popular drugs sold illegally. It can also be the most deadly.

“28 years in law enforcement, fentanyl is the worst drug I’ve seen. It is easily accessible and it takes a very small amount to kill a human being,” he said.

Quaka said fentanyl sold on the streets is often mixed in makeshift labs, and it can be made to look like other drugs, such as these M30 oxycodone tablets.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said combating the fentanyl crisis presents a lot of challenges for his investigators and deputies. One of the biggest dangers is coming in direct contact with the opioid.

“I tell people all the time, I’ve done this for forty years and I’ve never had to carry anything to protect me from a pill I put in my hand or something I get exposed to.  But all of our officers have Narcan now just for the simple reason that if we come in contact with fentanyl itself, it can throw us into an overdose state and it can be fatal,” said Johnson.

Quaka said parents need to be proactive in the fight against fentanyl.

“Parents, ask kids tough questions, see what they’re doing, be involved in their lives, especially when it comes to substance abuse,” Quaka said.

The only way to legally use fentanyl is with a doctor’s prescription and under medical supervision.

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