Amarillo police warn of manufacture of drugs contaminated with Fentanyl

Fentanyl Crystals and Pills - (DEA Photo)

The Amarillo Police Department said Friday to be aware of the possible contamination and sale of the drug Xanax and similar medications.

The prescription drug used to treat panic and anxiety order, police said, can be abused as a recreational drug and now may be abused even more in a dangerous way.

APD said it's aware people are illegally making and selling the drugs in a way that looks commercially manufactured but are contaminated with Fentanyl.

According to authorities, Fentanyl is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic pain medication that illicit manufacturers either intentionally or accidentally allow the contamination.

“The strength or the dosage can easily get way beyond what dosage is required for each individua, so it's very important that people don't mess with it,” said Southpark Pharmacy Owner Prince Ogbonna.

“Fentanyl is often prescribed in a patch so that it can pass through your skin into your body as a pain killer, so anything that can come into your body through contact is very highly dangerous,” said Amarillo Police Department Spokesman Sergeant Brent Barbee.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Pharmaceutical Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever meant to be used for treating severe pain like in advanced cancer patients.

The APD Narcotics Unit is currently investigating instances of this use of a pill sold illegally as Xanax but containing Fentanyl or other drugs.

“Xanax is supposed to be used for anxiety but some people misuse it and it gets them high but then when you add fentanyl to it, it's lethal, it could be,” said Ogbonna.

Police said this use of the drugs had led to users showing signs of drunkenness or an illness serious enough for hospitalization.

Amarillo police said anyone who illegally buys what they think is prescription Xanax, it may actually a dangerously contaminated substance. Parents are advised that Xanax is purchased off the street as a popular recreational drug and children should be made aware of the lethal risk.

“Obviously, any kind of pill or anything you purchase on the street is dangerous. You have absolutely no way of knowing what's in it to start with. Even if someone tells you it's a Xanax and even if it looks like a Xanax, there's no way to know if that's what it really is. That's been true for years and years, but more recently, we're seeing indications of a much more lethal contaminant or another drug within those pills,” said Barbee.

No deaths have been reported from this type of drug locally but the potential exists, according to APD.

“This type of thing is spreading. It's becoming more common. I'm not aware of any deaths that are directly related to these pills that are contaminated or have fentanyl in them, but we shouldn't have to wait until we have a death from one of these pills to tell people about it,” said Barbee.

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