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Law enforcement officials say they are finding more powerful synthetic opioids in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts State Police lab confirms the opioid carfentanil was found in 12 drug samples this year. It's an elephant tranquilizer more potent than fentanyl. Fentanyl, which is usually mixed with other illicit drugs or made into fake prescription pills, was found in 2,300 samples.
"If anything can be likened to a weapon of mass destruction and what it does to a community it's fentanyl," said Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Michael Ferguson.
Investigators now have protective gear — suits, masks and gloves — because of the risks associated with exposure to the powerful opioid.
So far this year, state police responded to 634 suspected opioid overdose deaths — about the same number as this time last year.
With reporting by WBUR's Deborah Becker
- A Deadly First: Carfentanil, An Opioid 100 Times More Potent Than Fentanyl, Traced In Mass.
- Opioid Overdose Deaths In Mass. Reach Grim Milestone: More Than 2,000 Died In 2016
- As Fentanyl Deaths Rise, An Off-Label Tool Becomes A Test For The Killer Opioid
- In The Era Of Fentanyl, Drug Users Fight To Survive