Two men have been arrested for distributing the drug Fentanyl in Austin, which has resulted in at least two overdose deaths. Police say it could be linked to many more.
Fentanyl is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, but APD says that's not what it's being sold for in Austin.
It's a drug more powerful than heroine.
"People die all the time. I've personally had to bring back a few people, give them CPR until the paramedics came," says Fentanyl user wishing to remain anonymous.
Austin Police say it's the first time they've seen fentanyl being used for non-medical purposes.
"If you're selling drugs, we're going to come get you. We are going to file on you federally, especially if it's resulting in the death of anyone," says Lt. Robert Richman, Organized Crime Division, Austin Police Department.
On May 18th, 26-year-old Sylvester Orlowski and 28-year-old Albert Picazo III were charged with intentionally, knowingly and unlawfully possessing with intent to distribute an illegal controlled substance. They are linked to the sale of Fentanyl to at least two individuals who overdosed and died from the use of the drug. Austin Police are also investigating two other overdose deaths.
"It appears to us that a lot of the regular drug users that are using methamphetamine and cocaine and things of that sort, are trying to use it in a similar fashion and it is so incredibly potent that there's just no way it can be used in the same fashion. I mean, it will kill you using it," says Lt. Richman.
On May 5th, Austin Police responded to a home in East Austin where two men were found dead.
A white powdery substance was found inside one of the rooms, which was later confirmed to be fentanyl.
The DEA says even small doses can be fatal.
"There are 2 milligrams of Fentanyl hydrochloride in that vile and that is a lethal dose. So, that's enough material to kill most people," says Emily Dye, forensic chemist, DEA Special Testing and Research Lab.
A cell phone of one of the deceased was searched and showed text messages indicating the drug was purchased from Orlowski.
The user asks him how to use it and how to handle adverse reactions. During an interview with police, Orlowski confessed that his dealer was Picazo.
"Being able to at least assist us in the investigation is something that is helpful in us getting the broader perspective and us knocking down those really large drug dealers that are pushing this out on the street and killing our community," says Lt. Richman.
APD reveals that the Fentanyl is coming from China and warns the public not to get near it.
The DEA says Fentanyl has posed a threat before. Between 2005 and 2007, more than 1,000 U.S deaths were attributed to Fentanyl. Many of those occurred in Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.
The source of that Fentanyl was traced to a single lab in Mexico. Once that lab was identified and dismantled, the surge ended.
Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and accidental inhalation of airborne powder can also occur.
If you come across this drug, you're asked to call 911 immediately.