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Fentanyl: latest enemy in fight against opioids

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway announcing recent fentanyl mill bust in central New York.

Local police agencies have a new foe in the fight against opioid addiction -- the synthetic drug fentanyl. It started showing up on central New York streets just over a year ago. Fentanyl, mostly mixed with heroin, but sometimes on i’s own, being sold to opioid users. 

According to Sgt. Jeremy Young of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, it’s becoming a bigger and bigger component in the street sale of heroin.

“Fentanyl is a more potent opioid. It’ll mimic the effects of heroin on the body. And for the drug dealers it’ll cost less to purchase, and you’ll make a higher profit reselling.”

The reason law enforcement officials are so concerned, says Young, comes from this fact: the federal Drug Enforcement Administration calls fentanyl 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. 

“It’s such a stronger opiate than when people are using, and they’re using heroin or just fentanyl at the same time, it’s such a potent drug, I think it’s having a lot to do with the increase in fatal overdoses we’re seeing.”

It was involved in 11 overdose deaths last year in Onondaga County, according to county officials. And it continues to have a place in the local drug trade. Last week, Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputies arrested six individuals in a Syracuse suburb for running the biggest fentanyl mill the deputies say they’ve seen locally.  

And it spurred Sheriff Gene Conway to call for more community discussion on an issue that’s touching all parts of Onondaga County.

“We’ve always had issues with illegal drugs in our community. It’s just, unfortunately what that drug is now, and how deadly it is,” said Conway.

Tomorrow,  a closer look at fentanyl from a pharmacist’s perspective.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.