PHOENIX–A 2017 fatal overdose in Phoenix has now been linked to the dangerous drug, carfentanil, reported the Phoenix Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday.

In late 2017, a 21-year-old male was discovered deceased in the driver’s seat of a vehicle parked outside a Phoenix-metro restaurant. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the presence of carfentanil. According to the DEA, carfentanil is a synthetic opioid approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. The presence of carfentanil in illicit U.S. drug markets, including Arizona, is cause for concern since the relative drug strength could lead to an increase in overdoses and overdose-related fatalities, even among people with an opioid-tolerance due to opioid abuse. Carfentanil also poses a high risk to first responders and law enforcement personnel who may encounter this substance. Safety protocols should be followed to avoid accidental exposure in any situation where a fentanyl-related substance might be present. Detailed safety measures can be found at Arizona Department of Health Services – Fentanyl Safety First Responders (see attached).

Getting Help for Opioid Misuse, Abuse, or Dependence

If you or someone you know is seeking help for opioid misuse, abuse, or dependence, there are treatment options available in your area. The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) has announced the opening of five Opioid Treatment Centers of Excellence that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide immediate access to opioid treatment services. The 24/7 centers serve AHCCCS members, individuals with no insurance, and individuals with insurance that may not cover some services like Medication Assisted Treatment or Peer Support Services. Please see the attached bulletins, and feel free to share with personnel within your agency and your community.

Public Assistance Needed

The DEA Heroin Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) is an enforcement program by DEA’s Phoenix Division that identifies and arrests drug traffickers directly responsible for overdose deaths. Currently, DEA HEAT is reviewing all available reporting surrounding this fatality to pursue any investigative leads and determine the origin of the carfentanil. Agents are asking for the assistance of the community and law enforcement to share information regarding availability of carfentanil and any other synthetic opioids as they are introduced into local drug markets and Arizona communities. Concerned citizens may contact the local DEA office at (602) 664-5600 to speak with a duty agent; or visit DEA’s tip line https://www.dea.gov/ops/submit.php. to provide any information related to this incident or other illicit drug related activity.