Three suspected drug dealers in Ohio are in federal custody after authorities say they confiscated enough fentanyl to “‘kill the entire population” of the state.
Shamar Davis, 31, Anthony Franklin, 30, and Grady Jackson, 37 were arrested in the drug sting on Oct. 22 and 23. They were booked on drug and weapons charges, according to police. Investigators seized 40 pounds of suspected fentanyl, as well as 1,500 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 50 grams of heroin, three firearms, and more than $30,000 in cash in the bust.
“When you’re dealing with a drug such as fentanyl, this day in age, we all know by now, that that amount distributed throughout the state or distributed throughout the country could be responsible for the deaths of many people,” Sheriff Rob Streck told Oxygen.com. “So [getting] as much as we could off the street is important.”
Police said the bust was a result of an ongoing investigation into the trio of alleged drug traffickers.
“Twenty kilograms of fentanyl is enough to kill the entire population of Ohio, many times over,” said Vance Callender, Homeland Security Investigations special agent.
Attorney General Dave Yost also likened the volume of fentanyl recovered to “chemical warfare.”
In addition, the fentanyl was found to contain carfentanil, an opioid "around one hundred times stronger than fentanyl and thousands of times stronger than heroin," according to a statement from Montgomery County coroner Kent Harshbarger.
Harshbarger notes that Narcan, the emergency treatment for opioid overdoses, isn't effective against carfentanil, increasing the danger it poses to the community.
Since the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) issued a national public health advisory about fentanyl overdoses in a number of states in 2015, overdose-related deaths from the drug have skyrocketed. And Ohio, along with a handful of other states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, have struggled to contain the growing body count.
Jamey Lister, an assistant professor at Rutgers University, who has studied opioid use disorder said that the synthetic opioid is now the most common drug involved in fatal overdoses across the U.S. In 2010, he said, fentanyl was responsible for 14 percent of all overdose related deaths. By 2017, that number had more than quadrupled — jumping to to 59 percent — according to the National Institute On Drug Abuse.
Dayton, particularly, is a hotspot of fentanyl overdoses, the Rutgers professor stated. He described Montgomery County as being “consistently the highest or most vulnerable county in Ohio” for fentanyl-related deaths. In 2018, authorities in Dayton seized approximately 20 pounds of fentanyl from a group of men with alleged ties to drug cartels. At the time, they said it was enough to kill "3 or 4 million people."
Carfentanil, a fentanyl analog that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, is responsible for killing roughly 400 people in Ohio between July and December 2016, the CDC also stated.
“Montgomery Country and Dayton in particular is right off a major intersection between I-75 and I-70, so in some ways that access point has probably put them at risk to where people from distribution channels, from all sides can meet up there,” Lister explained.
Fentanyl, known for its “heroin-like effect,” is often mixed with a variety of other street drugs, including cocaine or heroin, to amplify the high. The user is often unaware fentanyl is present in the drugs they're buying.
“If there’s fentanyl put into that supply — say they’re used to using heroin in a certain quantity — and there's fentanyl in there, because it’s 50 times stronger, what can happen is they’re not able to really use in a responsible manner,” Lister said. “They think they’re using ‘x’ amount but if the fentanyl is in there, then the potency has just went up massively, and put them at a really strong risk for overdose death if and when fentanyl is laced into the heroin.”
Two to three milligrams of fentanyl — the equivalent of about five grains of salt — can be fatal, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
“Only a few grains can kill a human being,” Streck, the Montgomery County Sheriff added. “It only takes a very small amount to stop someone’s heart. You could be thinking you’re getting heroin, or methamphetamine, or cocaine, and you’ve used those drugs before — and you’ve been fine after it’s over. Then you get a batch sent to you with fentanyl — that cocaine could kill you, that methamphetamine could kill you. That’s what we’re finding now.”
Davis, Franklin, and Jackson are being held in federal custody without bond.
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