There’s an opiate flooding the local black market that is stronger than heroin. It’s called Fentanyl and it is having a lethal effect on Western Maryland.
Officers with the Washington County Narcotics Task Force said it’s cheaper than heroin, more powerful and potent.
However, using Fentanyl, even in incredibly small doses, is extremely deadly.
“Just the tip of a pin of Fentanyl is enough to take someone from that high they’re looking for to an overdose and possible death,” Sgt. Mark Price said.
The opiate is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
In some instances, officers said heroin addicts in the four-state region are using the lethal drug without even knowing it.
“They think that they’re buying heroin, but they don’t know that their dealer has mixed it with Fentanyl. The dealer mixed it with Fentanyl because they get more bang for their buck,” Sgt. Price said.
Officers said the drug is not just being laced with heroin, it is also being sold on the street posing as Xanax, Percocet and OxyContin pills.
“Cheap Fentanyl will mimic high dollar pain pills such as Percocet or OxyContin. So, when people think they are buying these pills, they’re actually not buying OxyContin or Percocet, it’s actually Fentanyl,” Resident Agent in Charge of the DEA in Hagerstown, Brian Fitzpatrick said.
Just this year, there have been 120 heroin overdoses in Washington County, 13 of which were fatal. In Frederick County, Md., there were 101 overdoses, eight of which were fatal. In Allegany County, there were 19 fatal overdoses so far in 2016.
All told, there is one overdose death every 72 hours between Washington, Frederick and Allegany County.
“They’re used to taking so much heroin, well, when you’re taking that same amount that they think is heroin, but it’s actually Fentanyl, it can push them over the edge,” Price said.
Officers said they suspect the next powerful drug to flood the markets will be W-18, which is 100 times more powerful than Fentanyl.
Officers have not seen W-18 being sold in the four-state region just yet. However, it has been sold on the streets in some areas of Pennsylvania. They suspect it is only a matter of time before the drug will also be sold in the four-state area.