Suspected fentanyl discovered in Dillon supermarket bathroom prompts investigation
Public safety officials noted the opioid-reversal drug naloxone, better known as Narcan, has been made available at various locations throughout the community in an effort to respond to rising overdose deaths in recent years
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct the location of the National Fentanyl Awareness Day event.
An investigation is ongoing after police discovered a small amount of a substance believed to be fentanyl in a supermarket bathroom in Dillon on Wednesday, April 12, according to Dillon Police Chief Cale Osborn.
Police responded around 2 p.m. to City Market after staff reported the situation to law enforcement, Osborn said. An officer immediately took possession of the substance while wearing personal protective equipment, he said.
“We absolutely want to find the person who left their drugs in a public place,” Osborn said.
Citing an ongoing investigation, the police chief declined to provide additional information about the situation. While it is uncommon for drugs to be left in a public place, anyone that comes across what they believe to be dangerous drugs, suspicious packages, guns or weapons should immediately report the situation to law enforcement, he said.
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid linked to an increase in overdose deaths in recent years. More than 50 times more powerful than heroin, the drug is the leading cause of overdoses nationwide.
Overdose deaths in the United States topped 100,000 for the first time in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with almost 70% involving fentanyl. Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has reported that between 2020 and 2021 Colorado saw a nearly 70% increase in fatal overdoses from fentanyl.
“The number of overdoses and fatalities are incredible,” Osborn said
He noted the high number of overdoses has made the opioid-reversal drug naloxone, better known by the brand name Narcan, an important tool for communities across the country aiming to combat fatalities.
Osborn said the every Dillon police officer carries naloxone, and the town has begun to supply the life-saving nasal spray in automated external defibrillator, or AED, stations throughout town. The Summit County Public Health Department is undertaking a similar initiative, he said.
Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons noted that fentanyl is a particularly dangerous drug because it is commonly mixed with other illicit street drugs that people sometimes take recreationally.
“We’re seeing it in every illicit street drug other than marijuana,” FitzSimons said. “The cartels are lacing all the narcotics with it because it is cheap and addictive — but it’s also lethal. It can be lethal in really small doses.”
Because it is mixed with so many other drugs, people who take illicit drugs can consume fentanyl without knowing — and therefore should have naloxone ready — and should be aware that doses even within the same batch of drugs can vary, he said.
“You can have a whole batch of the same pills and some of those doses are lethal and some are not,” FitzSimons said. “So you’re literally playing Russian roulette.”
Both FitzSimons and Osborn noted that fentanyl has increasingly been mixed with Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer. Because Xylazine was never intended for human use, there is no known treatment, the sheriff said. That can place people who use drugs at a much higher risk of fatal drug poisoning because naloxone cannot reverse its effects.
FitzSimons noted that May 10 is National Fentanyl Awareness Day. The county will be hosting an awareness event at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center on May 10 with public health officials and community resources.
“This is where people can really come and get a lot of information on fentanyl and what is going on in the community,” FitzSimons said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.
Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.