Photo via johnofhammond on Flickr
A new fake Xanax drug being sold on the streets of Central Florida has been killing people in Pinellas County.
The Washington Times
reports that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a warning Tuesday that said that pills that appear to be painkillers actually contain deadly levels of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid, 50 times more potent than pure heroin.
The pills have already caused nine deaths in Pinellas County, according to Fox 13
Crime labs have recently seen an increase in the number of toxicology reports where fentanyl has been found mixed with illegal prescription drugs, such as Xanax, Percocet and Oxycodone.
Fox 13 found that in Pinellas County, there has been a spike from 14 reports in 2014 to 71 reports in last year.
"We don't know whether the source of Xanax-Fentanyl mixture is a local source, being manufactured here or in our area or manufactured elsewhere and being imported," Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told Fox 13.
But, he says that on nine separate occasions, investigators have purchased the bogus Xanax in undercover buys.
The Orlando Sentinel
reports that the FDLE has also analyzed reports of the drug found in Brevard and Osceola County and says the agency is concerned with how this could effect not only drug abusers, but recreational drug users.
Police are urging residents to get all of their medication through a licensed pharmacy.