A multi-agency probe into drug trafficking landed 15 people behind bars in Okaloosa County recently. The investigation also resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs worth more than $7 million. Calling the bust the largest in history of the county, authorities said a considerable amount of illicit substances like heroin, and fentanyl are now off the streets that would help deal with the opioid crisis.
The 10-month investigation conducted under Operation PayDirt led to the seizure of fentanyl worth $6 million and nearly $1 million heroin. The other drugs seized during the operation included cocaine, crack, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). “Okaloosa County is tied with West Palm Beach County as having the most heroin overdoses in the state of Florida. A matter of fact, for 2018, since February, our overdoses of heroin have dropped dramatically and it’s because of this single effort,” said Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley.
According to Ashley, the amount of fentanyl seized in the operation could have killed over 150,000 people, which is almost equivalent to the entire population of the county. The operation began in August 2017 when the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office joined hands with federal and state agencies like Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Fort Walton Beach Police Department, and Crestview Police Department to crack down on illegal drugs.
Fentanyl deadlier than heroin
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to control severe and chronic pain. It is 50 times more potent than heroin, and categorized as Schedule II controlled substance by the DEA. Significantly, even smaller quantity of fentanyl can lead to harmful and fatal consequences. Recently, the abuse of fentanyl has emerged as a grave concern for federal agencies as the drug is available not only in its original form, but also laced with other substances like cocaine and meth, killing more people of ignorance than who willfully overdose on it.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 228,000 people misused prescription fentanyl products in that year. However, the data may not have included the uninformed or misguided fentanyl misuse. Due to its high potency, fentanyl is highly addictive.
In general, fentanyl is prescribed in the form of a patch to people who have undergone a surgery. The sticky side of the patch helps release the drug into bloodstream in a controlled manner to alleviate the pain. One patch consists of three-day supply.
Therefore, abuse of fentanyl often involves consumption of the gel inside the patch, thereby taking the three-day supply at once. There are many people who abuse fentanyl by placing multiple patches on their skin in order to get an increased amount of the drug absorbed into the bloodstream. Besides, some individuals inject the fentanyl gel after melting it.
Seeking medical intervention
Fentanyl addiction can cause rapid heartbeat, pounding in ears, impairment in balance coordination, hallucinations and abnormal thoughts, while overdose on the drug can result in death. Therefore, it is advisable to seek immediate medical intervention with the onset of symptoms like change in behavior or cravings for the drug.
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