Buyer beware: Poisonous drug found in Oak Harbor

A rare, powerful form of a dangerous and poisonous drug was recently found in the blood of a fatal overdose victim.

A compound, called 3-Methylfentanyl, appeared on the Oak Harbor victim’s toxicology report, said Carl Rider, an agent with the Ottawa County Drug Task Force.

The compound is 10 to 15 times more powerful than ordinary fentanyl, which is an extremely potent pain management drug that looks like heroin. It’s often sold as heroin, or mixed in with other drugs, to unsuspecting buyers.

Those who inject the drug are more likely to overdose due to its potency, Rider said.

The compound has local law enforcement officials worried.

Rider recently alerted area law enforcement agencies, warning them about the compound.

“Please use extreme caution when dealing with any unknown powder substance,” Rider wrote in the message. “This substance can be absorbed through the skin on contact.”

Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick shared his thoughts on the drug problem.

“Obviously, with all of the different strains of fentanyl out there, we have to take a new approach to our field testing procedures,” Levorchick said. “We asked our deputies not to test any powder substances because we don’t want to take the chance of them absorbing it.”

Suspected drugs can be sent off to crime labs for safe testing.

“If they absolutely have to handle that stuff, we ask them to put on approved gloves,” Levorchick said.

Fentanyl has claimed several lives across Ottawa County this past year.

In one case, a local woman died of an overdose by injecting what she believed was heroin into her vein. It was actually fentanyl, and it flooded her system with more than five times a lethal dose due to its potency.

“The climate with drugs has changed drastically with all of this fentanyl,” Levorchick said. “It’s very scary.”

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