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Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office warns of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is warning Americans about an increase in fake prescriptions drugs containing fentanyl.

In its first public safety alert since 2015, the DEA says pills are being sold by dealers online and on the streets at alarming rates. The agency says overdoses are also on the rise.

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) says dangerous laced pills are prevalent in Northeast Louisiana.

“Instead of getting a pill, they are getting a fentanyl,” said Captain Jay Ellerman, Commander of the Metro Narcotics Unit for OPSO.

Ellerman told KNOE that the agency first noticed fentanyl in the parish about five years ago.

“Guys were ordering powdered fentanyl from China over the dark web,” explained Captain Ellerman.

Ellerman says now dealers are buying the illegal substance and using pill presses to make dangerous counterfeits.

“They would look like a Lortab or a Hydrocodone, or maybe a Xanax bar, but you could tell they weren’t quite the quality you would get from a pharmacy,” described Ellerman.

Ellerman says the practice is hazardous because addicts believe they are getting a safe prescription drug, not a substance that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

“I get five hydrocodone pills. You get five hydrocodone pills,” said Ellerman. “Mine may have hardly any fentanyl in them. Yours may have an exorbitant amount of fentanyl in it, and you overdose and die.”

Ellerman says the reason fentanyl is so popular is because of its potency.

“It’s a lot stronger,” explained Ellerman. “It takes less of it to use, so you can get an amount and make that amount that you purchase as a dealer go further.”

Ellerman says the Sheriff’s Office has given all patrol officers Narcan in case of an accidental overdose.

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