By now, you've heard of the synthetic opioid called Fentanyl. It's a drug that's so dangerous even a tiny amount can kill.
So, when investigators in Collin County uncovered an operation funneling thousands of doses into North Texas, police took action.
What began with a call about two men acting suspiciously near the Celina square in September 2021 ended, police say, with high-volume drug distributors in Dallas and Collin counties behind bars.
“Just by good patrol work,” an investigator with the Celina Police Department told NBC 5.
The investigator, who asked not to be identified due to his undercover work, says drugs found on the men led to a search of their phones, which led to distributors of counterfeit prescription pills that are laced with fentanyl.
“They're pushing thousands of pills a month as far as fentanyl goes,” the CPD investigator said.
The round blue pills are known as “M-30s,” or “blues.”
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They look like oxycodone, but the CPD investigator says the pills are made in Mexico.
“It is being mixed in labs, not by chemists, with fillers, crushed up baby aspirin, baby powder -- stuff like that -- so it’s fentanyl and then a filler, then in a pill press, it’s made to look like a pharmaceutical grade pill but it’s not,” the CPD investigator explained.
Fentanyl use has spiked in recent years in the U.S.
Between January 2019 and January 2021, the DEA says overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids - primarily fentanyl - rose 55.6% and appear to be the primary driver of the increase in total drug overdose deaths.
“Unfortunately, fentanyl touches every community everywhere no matter how big or how small it is,” the CPD investigator said.
So far, the pill operation uncovered after the stop in Celina has been connected, police say, with one overdose death at a Dallas hotel and well over a dozen overdoses where lives were saved because of Narcan.
“People have OD'd in McKinney, Dallas, here in Celina, in Prosper,” the CPD investigator said.
Narcan is stored on most ambulances.
Syringes at the Frisco Fire Department are pre-filled and can be administered through the vein, muscle or a nasal spray.
“It's one of the drugs where we will see an immediate result, usually within one or two minutes, someone who's not breathing because they have had some type of opioid OD, it will reverse that effect,” said Frisco Fire Deputy Chief Scott Vetterick.
The Celina investigation resulted in three suspects facing federal indictment and six facing state charges.
The CPD investigator says encourages parents to talk to their kids about the problem.
“What they may think of as a little blue pill that comes from a pharmacy, it doesn’t come from a pharmacy, it’s not real. It’s a pill that very well may kill you,” the CPD investigator said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set up a nationwide helpline for anyone dealing with opioid addiction: 1-800-662-4357. It’s also established a way to find treatment.