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'Ticking time bomb': Kootenai County fentanyl overdoses increasing


COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Fentanyl-related overdoses continue to increase in Kootenai County, law enforcement said.


In late May, five people died from suspected fentanyl-related overdoses in eight days. Now, ten days later, there have been at least two more overdoses, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) said. Authorities weren't able to release the condition of the two individuals.


Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is continuously popping up all over the county, KCSO said. It's so powerful, that just two grains of this extremely potent and very deadly drug can be enough to kill someone. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Doses as small as two milligrams are fatal for most people.


"We got well over one hundred pills here," KCSO Sergeant and HIDTA team member Jon Brandel said. "Each one of those is a ticking time bomb."


Brandel said the scariest part about illicit fentanyl is that there is no quality control. That means, within the same batch of pills, one could have no amount of the drug, and another pill could have a deadly dose. Plus, it's nearly impossible to tell which drugs are real and which are counterfeit.


"The frightening thing about it is just the unknown," he said. "You have no way to tell. You couldn't cut this pill in half and go, 'Oh, I can see the big giant red fentanyl in it.'"


Fentanyl comes in all shapes, sizes and colors, he said. Not all fentanyl-related products look like little circular pills.


"Even someone who is knowingly taking heroin, this heroin is cut with fentanyl," he added, pointing out 30 grams of black-tar heroin that his team found in a drug trafficking stop. "That becomes equally dangerous because someone who may be a heroin user is expecting a certain response for their body to a known product, not knowing that it contains fentanyl. And now, they're looking at a potentially dangerous situation."


Drug dealers and traffickers often cut different drugs with fentanyl because the synthetic opioid is incredibly cheap and anyone can make it, he added. Sometimes, people try to buy another drug and get hooked on fentanyl without realizing. He added you should assume that any drug bought illegally has the synthetic opioid in it.


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