Bay Area

Recent Bay Area Fentanyl Busts Show Proliferation of the Dangerous Narcotic

DEA says the synthetic opioid now accounts for more than half of all overdose deaths

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Multiple recent drug busts are helping keep a lot of illegal fentanyl off Bay Area streets, but experts say it's a sign of just how much of the lethal narcotic is out there.

Law enforcement agencies across the region have recovered significant hauls of fentanyl and other narcotics in large-scale busts -- millions of dollars worth. But is it enough to make a dent in the proliferation of fentanyl on the streets?

Experts say not really and are sounding the alarm. While these drug busts are keeping streets a little bit safer, the discoveries are shedding more light on the dangers of fentanyl, especially when it oftentimes resembles candy.

Dr. Phillip Coffin of the San Francisco Department of Health says the consumption of fentanyl can result in a rapid overdose for someone who is not expecting to use fentanyl.

"It is the potency, but it is also the rapidness of its effect," Coffin said. "Fentanyl is incredibly quick. With fentanyl, death can occur in as quick as 3, 4, 5 minutes."

Earlier this week, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office recovered 15 pounds of fentanyl, a kilo of heroin and $139,000 in cash inside a car near McClymonds High School in Oakland. Four suspects were taken into custody.

A few weeks ago in Alameda County, the Narcotics Task Force seized more than $4 million of illicit fentanyl in Oakland and Hayward. Also recently, Santa Clara County authorities recovered a haul of fentanyl poised for 28,000 lethal doses.

But do these busts make a dent in the crisis?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says the synthetic opioid now accounts for more than half of all overdose deaths. Across the Bay Area, fentanyl deaths are climbing.

"Fentanyl is between 80 and 100 times more potent than heroin opioids," said Bruce Copley of Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services. "Only a small amount of fentanyl can cause overdose or death. There is no safe amount of fentanyl that anyone should be using."

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