Fentanyl: Deadly To Drug Users - And Cops

Fentanyl: Deadly To Drug Users - And Cops

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During "Operation Gravy Train" law enforcement seized thousands of bags of heroin that were cut with the deadly drug fentanyl. 

In part 2 of "Fentanyl: Lives on the Line," 7 News reporter Garrett Domblewski looks at steps the Massena Police Department is taking to protect its officers from the dangerous drug.

Jason Olson is the senior investigator for the Massena Police Department.

"Within the last year or two, it's started to become extremely deadly," he said.

Olson is talking about the introduction of fentanyl into the community.

It's a dangerous drug.

Dealers are lacing heroin with it and it only takes a small amount of fentanyl to be lethal.

"Roughly two milligrams," Olson said. "It doesn't take a lot for that stuff to be deadly."

Deadly for the user and deadly for any officer who accidentally comes in contact with it.

"You have that on your skin, you have it on your hand, it could easily get on your face, and you could easily ingest it somehow," Olson said.

And there's a lot of this stuff in Massena.

You'll remember a video we aired, a "BearCat" armored vehicle, smashing through the door of a Massena house during "Operation Gravy Train" in June.

You can see it again in the video linked to this story.

Gravy Train was the largest drug bust in St. Lawrence County history, and turned up 5,600 bags of heroin, 3,000 of those cut with fentanyl.

In Massena, more than 2,300 bags of heroin were seized, half of those contained fentanyl.

Massena Police Chief Adam Love says it's a new and very real threat to his officers.

"It's not just in regards to weapons now," he said. "We have to worry about the opioids that are out there. This fentanyl, and if carfentanil ever comes here, is they're putting their lives at risk every day they go onto a call or go into a house or into a car."

Carfentanil is another version of fentanyl, but even stronger -- usually used as a tranquilizer for large animals like elephants.

It hasn't made its way to the north country, but if it did, Love says you'd see an even more dramatic spike in overdose deaths.

"It would double or triple our rates of death," Love said.

Meanwhile, in the village of Massena overdoses have already spiked. 

In 2015 there were eight overdose calls. Last year there were 29, with seven deaths.

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