'We've seized thousands of pills': Kenosha Police report increase in fentanyl-laced pills

NOW: ’We’ve seized thousands of pills’: Kenosha Police report increase in fentanyl-laced pills

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Kenosha Police say a recent drug arrest served as the latest reminder of an increase they've seen of fentanyl-laced pills.

Lt. Leo Viola said Officers Keith Soderstrom and Jonathan Guadarrama arrested a 24-year-old man last Friday night on the suspicion he'd been selling drugs. Viola said following the arrest, which happened near 53rd St. and 22nd Ave., officers recovered about 70 grams of marijuana and 10 grams' worth of pills that tested positive for fentanyl.

CBS 58 is not identifying the suspect because he has yet to be charged with a crime. 

While the arrest was by no means a massive drug bust, Viola said getting any fentanyl off the street is a victory, especially since fentanyl-laced pills have become a more common sight here.

"The amount of pills that we've seized has grown, just exponential over the years," Viola said. "We've seized thousands of pills."

Viola said police suspect part of the increase is because someone is manufacturing pills in the area, but he added police believe the majority of the pills are still coming in elsewhere.

Pending the outcome of dozens of toxicology results, Kenosha County has seen an increase in suspected overdose deaths so far this year.

The Kenosha County Medical Examiner's office reported 57 confirmed overdose deaths in 2022. 37 of those deaths involved fentanyl. Two more deaths are still pending final toxicology results.

So far this year, the medical examiner's office has confirmed nine overdose deaths, and seven of them involved fentanyl. However, another 61 deaths are still pending the results of autopsies and toxicology tests.

Wallace Brandies, clinical supervisor at Addiction Services and Pharmacotherapy in Kenosha, said fentanyl-laced bills pose a unique threat because they can reach more people than heroin.

Wallace Brandies is the clinical supervisor at Addiction Services and Pharmacotherapy, a methadone clinic in Kenosha. He said pills put more people at risk, relative to heroin.

"Psychologically, it's a gamechanger, right? A lot of people are afraid of needles," Brandies said. "A lot of people have been snorting or ingesting pills."

Brandies said he's also seeing other substances, like benzodiazepines, a depressant, getting cut into drugs their patients are trying to stop abusing. 

"So, we're seeing somebody who's been coming here, let's say since last year, never had a history of using benzos," Brandies said. "Now they're testing positive."

Brandies said his message to anyone dealing with an opioid addiction is to know help is available, always have Narcan around and to be leery of any pills, even if they're coming from a familiar person.

"It's a tragedy when somebody dies from overdosing when it could've been prevented," he said.

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