HONOLULU (KHON2) — Law enforcement across Hawaii is making larger seizures of fentanyl with just 2 milligrams considered a deadly dose.
Last month, Maui police seized nearly 145 grams of fentanyl, Honolulu police made four arrests and recovered four ounces of the substance and some of the larger seizures are happening on Hawaii Island.
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“It’s pretty much the scariest thing I’ve seen,” said Det. Jesse Kerr, Hawaii Police Department Area I Vice Section.
Hawaii Island is also where police said several officers have been taken to the hospital due to exposure.
“We just treat everything like it’s fentanyl because there’s so much out there. Even other drugs are laced with it,” said Kerr.
Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Hawaii has a new warning amid a trend happening on the mainland.
“If xylazine is in the product you’ve ingested, Narcan won’t work,” said Clare Connors, U.S. Attorney District of Hawaii. “The drug cartels are mixing xylazine with fentanyl because they’re trying to increase the potency.”
Officials said fentanyl is making its way to Hawaii by plane and mail. In an effort to dismantle trafficking operations, the U.S. Postal Service is offering up to $50,000 for any tips that lead to arrests or convictions related to fentanyl coming to the islands by mail.
“They’re hiding them in candy form making them look like Skittles or even Legos to avoid detection,” said Victor Vazquez, Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge.
The DEA is investigating dealers from the bottom, up.
“We’re working undercover buys from the street level to identify associates and other traffickers to ultimately find the chain of supply for the fentanyl,” Vazquez said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is already working on two fentanyl trafficking cases tied to two overdoses on Oahu. They’re preparing to dish out harsher penalties to dealers.
“If you are proven to have distributed fentanyl in a manner that caused death, you could be on the hook for a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison, a potential life sentence without parole,” said Connors.
Officials said it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach and they intend to hold traffickers accountable.
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“These drug dealers are going to make all the money that they possibly can and they are going to do it by risking the lives of the very people they call customers,” Connors said.