St. Charles sheriff warns of dangers
An even more potent and deadly drug called Carfentanil is coming out of China and being used in heroin on the streets.
The drug is likely in St. Charles Parish because law enforcement says it’s easily entering the U.S.
Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more powerful than its cousin, Fentanyl, a painkiller 50 times more potent than pure heroin. The drug’s intended use is tranquilizing large animals like elephants, but now it’s being blamed for a record spike in drug overdoses.
St. Charles Parish, like much of the nation, has been contending with Fentanyl-laced heroin. Sheriff’s Office Maj. Rodney Madere said two recent deaths are under investigation as suspected heroin overdoses.
Last year, at least four heroin overdoses were reported in the parish that included a “double death” involving Luling men at the same residence that prompted Sheriff Greg Champagne to issue a heroin danger alert. Champagne warned overdose deaths were being blamed on Fentanyl-tainted heroin in epidemic proportions nationwide.
As of now, the sheriff emphasized, “We’re still making arrests … making cases all the time. Narcotics are a big problem.” But he also emphasizes “We’re like every parish.”
While the presence of Carfentanil has not been confirmed in the parish, Madere said it is likely here because it’s surfacing in epidemic proportions nationally.
“It comes FedEx or mail delivery all the time,” he said of the drug flowing to a demanding U.S. market. “It comes in every way, but it gets here.”
Carfentanil is legal in China, which has made it easily exploitable. The U.S. government has approached Chinese officials about controlling the drug, which they argue is so potent that it’s being compared to a nerve agent.
Already, law enforcement was hitting the panic button on record opiate overdoses, but measures were helping. Madere said emergency responders and law enforcement started carrying Nalozone to immediately reverses overdoes and it’s working on lowering deaths.
However, heroin use is tied to economics as the cheap alternative to a prescription drugs crackdown.
Opiates have become so lucrative a business that Madere said an estimated 70 percent of marijuana fields in Mexico have been replaced by opium crops.
One hit of heroin can cost as little as $30, he said.Carfentanil is the latest addition to an already growing and costly problem.
The overall growth in opioid use is straining already stretched public resources, as well as driving up crime rates to support drug habits, Madere said. He singled out two female heroin users who were also pregnant who wanted help and got it, but he emphasized this assistance is getting hard to find.
Deputies say programs that would help drug users are beyond being filled to capacity.
Madere added they’re getting a rising number of calls reporting family and friends using these drugs. The Sheriff’s Office is averaging a half dozen calls a day.
Additionally, law enforcement is fearful of exposure to heroin needles used up to a dozen times potentially carrying AIDS or Hepatitis. And now, they’re contending with exposure to an elephant tranquilizer that can poison them by getting through clothing, he said.
Champagne also blamed more permissive attitudes for rising drug use such as efforts to legalize marijuana.
“We’re seeing more and more people believing drugs are okay,” Champagne said.