NEWTOWN, Ohio — Authorities in Ohio are warning of an even deadlier form of fentanyl found throughout the state.
While Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan said he considers fentanyl the king of all drugs, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is warning officials of a new, more potent analog version of the drug called parafluorofentanyl. Parafluorofentanyl, first identified in the state's lab in October 2020, has been detected in 70 of Ohio's 88 counties.
"Ohio has the most identified fentanyl analogs than any other state in the country," Synan said. "For some reason, Ohio seems to be this centralized location where these fentanyl analogs, where these opiate analogs, kind of come in, and then they kind of take hold here and then spread throughout the country."
Police say the drug is coming from a cartel in Mexico and arriving in Ohio in massive quantities. Earlier this month, four kilos of fentanyl were confiscated by Hilliard Police and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department. Results from the state crime lab found half of the amount was made up of parafluorofentanyl.
"They came to me and said, 'Hey we have this piece of information, and we are working with the sheriff's office,' and in a matter of days then that led to this great arrest, great seizure, and hopefully helped saved some people's lives," Hilliard Deputy Chief Mike Woods said.
Ohio BCI confirms 2 out of 4 kilos of fentanyl recently intercepted by FCSO and @Hilliard_Police SIU Units tested positive for parafluorofentanyl. It is a potent and deadly variety. To date, it is the largest bulk seizure in the region. Authorities are urging caution. pic.twitter.com/FJ1TuP1jVe— Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (@OHFCSO) October 28, 2021
Jon Sprague, pharmacist with the Attorney General's Office said the new drug targets the brain faster, making it deadlier. Parafluorofentanyl was in "The Wire" actor Michael K. Williams' system when he died in September.
"What we are seeing is this toxicity that we have not seen before," Sprague said.
In 2012, fentanyl contributed to seven deaths in Hamilton County. Synan said there have been about 400 deaths every single year connected to drug abuse since around 2015. About 80% — if not more — are related to fentanyl.
"It has become a significant problem not only in Cincinnati, Ohio but across the country," Synan said.
Synan said while he is aware of parafluorofentanyl, he has not encountered it himself.