MADISON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – The nation’s opioid crisis has been making headlines for over a year now. Now a new threat has made the addiction problem even more dangerous in Mississippi.
The new problem is that someone in Metro area is selling fentanyl, a pill that can kill with just one dosage. It’s disguised as the painkiller oxycontin, which can cause an overdose if taken in a high volume.
The counterfeit pills look almost identical to oxycontin.
“Fentanyl is essentially 1,000 times more powerful than morphine,” Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy said.
The Mississippi State Crime Lab found the drug in a Madison County man’s system. The 24-year-old died Sunday, after taken an unknown amount of pills.
“You may take one and it may not do anything to you but get you a little bit of a high. But the second may end up causing you to lose your life,” Dowdy said.
This death makes the 5th overdose death in Madison County for 2017.
MBN agents are working to find out who sold him the counterfeit opioids.
Dowdy says just a few months ago, agents found pill presses and fentanyl during a search warrant in South Mississippi.
He hasn’t said that search is connected to the pills found in Madison County, but whoever is responsible doesn’t know what they are doing.
“The dealers who are manufacturing these pills, they’re not chemists. They’re not pharmacists. So they have no idea that one microgram of fentanyl can be lethal,” Dowdy said.
The dealer could face life in prison on the federal level, and a manslaughter charge on a state level, according to the director.
But the governor’ s Opioid and Heroin Task-force is working to change that law.
“We are asking the legislator to give our state prosecutors the same kind of tool the federal prosecutors have, by allowing us to charge death resulting from the sale or transfer of a controlled substance…They would be subject to a minimum of 40 years in prison up to life,” Dowdy said.
Last year, 211 people died of a drug overdose in Mississippi.