The drug related problems and numerous arrests that have been growing in Mercer County and the Stateline area is concerning to many residents.

Street drugs laced with fentanyl pose life threatening consequences to the user as well as medical and police personnel that respond to a person who has overdosed on fentanyl laced drugs. These drugs also present significant risks to police laboratory professionals who must analyze these toxic drugs.

News Release

November 3, 2017 – The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) is issuing an urgent public alert regarding the dangers posed by drugs currently circulating America’s streets and neighborhoods as a result of the current opioid crisis.   This alert is intended to help the public recognize and avoid suspicious materials when they are nearby.

ASCLD President Ray Wickenheiser

“The threat is unprecedented. Some of the clandestine substances being sold or made accessible have formulations that are so toxic that it’s better to consider them poison.”

The street drugs the public may be exposed to can be so dangerous that even trace amounts can be fatal when ingested, inhaled or even absorbed through the skin. Carfentanil, a drug 100 times more lethal than fentanyl and 10,000 times more lethal than morphine, is used to tranquilize elephants, yet is now available on the streets.  A lethal dose is approximately 20 micrograms, which is about the size of a grain of salt.  The problem is so serious that it requires scientists working in crime laboratories across the United States to take additional special precautions to protect their own safety.

According to Wickenheiser, approximately 94% of all crime laboratories in the United States compile and share data pertaining to drug evidence submissions.

“Crime laboratories see and identify a variety of drugs, compiling statistics from across many law enforcement agencies. There is a direct relationship between the kinds of drugs we are seeing in our laboratories and the spike in overdose deaths being reported in hospitals across the country.”

ASCLD warns members of the public to pay close attention in order to recognize and avoid dangerous drug paraphernalia. Drugs seen in America’s crime laboratories are often packaged, transported, and used with common household items.

Items to be avoided include:

  • Pills, tablets, or unidentified candy
  • Powders, especially those that are white or gray in color
  • Glassine (wax paper) packets, small knotted plastic bag corners or ziplock bags
  • Clear capsules that contain powder
  • Rubber balloons or condoms
  • Small, brightly colored packages
  • Syringes or spoons
  • Stickers or labels that seem out of place (potent drugs may be on the adhesive side)

The following crime lab data underscore the nature and severity of the problem:

  • In the first six months of 2017, there was a 19% increase in opioid submissions to crime labs as compared to all of 2016
  • In 2016, there were over 22 different types of fentanyl (a powerful opioid pain medication) identified in crime labs
  • 2017 has seen a 54% increase in fentanyl cases submitted to crime labs
  • Between 2012 and 2016, laboratories have witnessed a 6000% increase in fentanyl cases. This increase corresponds directly with the overdose deaths being seen nationwide.
  • Case backlogs have increased by roughly 28% in the last year due to the increasing case submissions, case complexity and danger of the drugs now being seized by law enforcement

Forensic scientists working in America’s crime laboratories have seen first-hand, the kinds of materials and containers that may pose the greatest threat. This public alert is based on their direct experience observing and analyzing these dangerous drugs.

Other information

Fentanyl Addiction: Fentanyl is a narcotic painkiller becoming more in the spotlight of drug usage currently. Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. This prescription opioid painkiller is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it: “ has a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” (DEA) It is considered as dangerous as cocaine, Vicodin, OxyContin, and Adderall. The reaction for the addict renders the user euphoric and numb both mentally and physically. It is often found as a powder which can be melted into a liquid and administered like a heroin injection. The prescription brand names that are legally manufactured are Duragesic, Actiq, Abstral, Lazanda, and Subsys. Fentanyl in its non-pharmaceutical version is often added to heroin and cocaine and injected. It has many street names including Apache, China Girl, Dance Fever, Goodfella, Jackpot, TNT, and Tango.