- Associated Press - Friday, December 8, 2017

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Police in central Illinois say three people have died within the past few days from a highly potent form of fentanyl that’s also being found in cocaine.

Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell led a news conference Thursday, just days after his department learned about the drug from Illinois State Police scientists at the Morton Crime Lab, the Peoria Journal Star reported .

Mitchell said the fentanyl-laced cocaine is a “game changer” because people who regularly use cocaine tend not to carry Narcan, an antidote meant to reverse the effects of heroin and other opioids.

“It changes the image a lot for people who do not expect to have that in a recreation drug or drugs that they depend upon,” Mitchell said. “This is here and we have to deal with it.”

The new drug is the latest in the ongoing opioid crisis that’s hit the nation. Mitchell said Peoria has seen more than 250 overdose victims so far this year, compared to less than 60 overdose victims this time in 2015.

Police said there have been nearly a dozen overdoses with three fatalities since Dec. 4. Capt. Mike Mushinsky said part of the danger is that the new type of fentanyl looks just like “rock cocaine.”

“You could overdose on a large quantity of cocaine and Narcan wouldn’t help you, but now that this fentanyl is being mixed in, then they need to know to carry Narcan, or a better version is not to use cocaine,” Mushinsky said. “We have never seen this in cocaine and we would never expect to see this in cocaine.”

Police have urged people to look into treatment options and to talk to loved ones if they have a drug problem. Officers are also looking for the person or people selling the drugs.

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Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com


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