MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. — The United States Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning Wednesday after numerous mass overdoses across the country that involved fentanyl.
The agency said fentanyl is driving the nationwide overdose epidemic, and officials in Indiana are seeing similar trends.
“We have seen spikes across our state in just about every county,” Indiana Drug Czar Douglas Huntsinger said.
Huntsinger pointed out that in February, the federal Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking labeled fentanyl a “slow-motion weapon of mass destruction.”
“The raw materials that are used to produce the illicit fentanyl come from China or India, are sent to Mexico where they’re processed into fentanyl,” Huntsinger said. “Those substances then get processed across the southern border.”
Huntsinger said they make it across a lot easier than other drugs because the cartels are smuggling smaller quantities.
“You can tell when the new batch comes in that may have some changes in how they cut their drugs or whatever because we’ll suddenly start getting overdoses, and then it’ll subside,” Morgan County Coroner Michael Ellis said.
Ellis said he’s not surprised to see the DEA issuing this warning. He’s seeing fentanyl more and more in the people that end up on the tables in the morgue.
“To kill a human being, basically what it does is it knocks out your ability to breathe and you basically suffocate,” Ellis said.
Ellis said often times the people taking the drugs have no idea what they’re taking until it’s too late. He, in part, blames the cartels who are trafficking these drugs.
“They’re cutting their heroin product or there cocaine product or whatever and lacing it with fentanyl,” Ellis said. “I don’t know if that’s trying to get more bang for their buck or what it is, but they’re killing people.”
Morgan County saw six overdose deaths in the first quarter of this year. The DEA said 29 people have died in recent overdose events.
Indiana’s drug czar said his priority is to keep people alive.
“We can’t move individuals into recovery if they’re not alive to get treatment,” Huntsinger said. “Anyone can call 211 to find resources to find treatment and to help an individual find that appropriate level of care.”
You can locate free doses of Narcan at Overdose Lifeline.