King County agencies see more fentanyl powder coming into communities

After the King County Sheriff's Office made the biggest drug bust in its department's history last week, officials are warning that we are trending in the wrong direction when it comes to fentanyl powder.

The six men arrested for their alleged involvement in a massive cartel operation are set to be arraigned in January. They're accused of bringing in a significant amount of meth, heroin and fentanyl into King County.

"They roughly could have overdosed everybody within King County," said Sgt. Corbett Ford with the sheriff's office.

One of the most eye-opening discoveries for detectives was the 25 pounds of fentanyl powder found in the bust, and Ford says it doesn't take much to feel the drugs effects.

"You could easily take a gram of fentanyl powder, and that would be anywhere from an overdose to a lethal amount of fentanyl," said Ford.

He says fentanyl powder can easily get into your system by smell or touch.

The fentanyl powder found in last week's operation briefly fooled detectives.

"They believed they had found a significant amount of cocaine, and it ended up being fentanyl powder," Ford said.

The King County Sheriff's Office and Public Health - Seattle and King County agree it's difficult to tell the difference between fentanyl powder and other powders by just looking at it, and they also agree they're seeing more of the drug in powder form.

"We've actually seen a higher portion of fentanyl included in powders than pills that have in our community," said Brad Finegood, Strategic Advisor on Overdose Prevention for Public Health.

They're weeks away from completing their fatal overdose deaths report, but their 2022 overdose report shows "among the overdose deaths where a fentanyl-substance was identified, the majority (64%) were linked to pills, but almost a quarter (23%) were linked to powders."

Agencies are concerned about fentanyl powder in the community with New Years celebrations around the corner.

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"If you see a substance that you don't recognize what it is, especially if it's a white powdery substance, don't touch it," said Ford.

While having Narcan on hand is recommended, you can also order fentanyl test strips and other overdose prevention supplies from Public Health.