DEA warns about widespread cocaine contamination in Florida

MIAMI (WSVN) - The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a warning about contaminated cocaine that is becoming more widespread in Florida.

The DEA’s forensic laboratories tested cocaine that had been seized by police across Florida from the past two years. Scientists found 180 of the seized batches also contained fentanyl, carfentanil, or other fentanyl-related substances.

The report said fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and just 2 milligrams can be lethal. Carfentanil, meanwhile, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and was the substance found most often in the cocaine seizures the DEA tested.

While cocaine from across the Sunshine State was tested, the DEA said far more samples from Miami-Dade contained the opioids compared to other counties.

The DEA says cocaine killed more people in Florida in 2016 than any other drug, and pointed out that cocaine-related deaths have more than doubled over the past four years.

In Miami-Dade, the Medical Examiner’s Office saw approximately 36 cocaine-related fatalities each month in 2016; 84 of those died with both cocaine and carfentanil in their systems.

The agency says the opioids were found so often that it indicates dealers are commonly mixing the substances into the drug, sometimes purposefully to increase profitability or potency.

The report also warned police officers in the state to use “extreme caution,” since even a small amount has the potential to be fatal.

Symptoms of fentanyl ingestion include drowsiness, disorientation, respiratory distress, pin-point pupils and clammy skin, the DEA says. The onset of the symptoms is dramatic and usually happens within a few minutes of ingestion.

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