TBI issues warning about fentanyl-laced recreational drugs


The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued a statewide public alert on Friday after samples of cocaine seized in Knoxville and Nashville were found to contain deadly levels of the narcotic Fetanyl.

The powerful pain killer that has the capacity to kill people in minimal doses has been found in counterfeit pills and in heroin in the past, but TBI Assistant Director TJ Jordan said their labs have found fetanyl in cocaine samples for the first time.

"Now this may not sound like a big deal but here is why we are so concerned," Jordan said.

"For some time now, we've rung the bell and we have warned about the dangers surrounding fetanyl for the struggling opioid or prescription drug user. This submission, however, changes the game. It proves a serious risk now that also applies to recreational drugs beyond opioids.

"To be blunt, what you might buy and use thinking it's a good time could cost you your life. The process of mixing cocaine with other substances is called cutting. Dealers break down kilos that are of a high grade or near pure, they take and break it down and they'll use a press kilo press and use cutting agents to expand the amount or quantities that they have. In essence, they are increasing their profit."

Jordan referenced the deaths of Georgia physician Raul Rodon and his friend Ginny Brock who were found dead in August. An investigator said the two had been using cocaine laced with fetanyl.

He said the risk is real of that happening in communities around Tennessee.

TBI Special Agent Tommy Farmer said fentanyl is a manmade, synthetic drug that is produced in clandestine drug labs that is not pharmaceutical grade but is "tweaked' to make it legal.

Samples secured in TBI labs of seized drugs laced with fetanyl have increased from just 12 samples in 2013 to 320 samples so far in 2017.

These reckless, drug cocktails, Farmer said, are becoming more common among recreational drug users, making the risk of death higher.

Jordan said drug dealers taking advantage of vulnerable people by peddling lethal concoctions will be pursued relentlessly and they are "public enemy number one."

He also noted it only takes small amounts, like a sample the size of a sprinkling of baby powder, to make someone overdose.

TBI spokesperson Josh DeVine also emphasized the need for those addicted to stop and get help, including calling the Tennessee REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789.

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