A Wooster man has denied charges he was in possession of carfentanil when he was arrested earlier this year following a search warrant.

Nicholas D. Knapik, 32, 743 Spink St., has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated possession of drugs, possession and possessing drug abuse instruments.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 17 in front of Judge Mark K. Wiest.

Donald Hall, director of the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency, said during a warrant search at Knapik’s residence he was allegedly found with carfentanil.

“We have done multiple arrests and search warrants out of 743 Spink St.,” Hall said. Court records also indicate the residence was the site of an overdose incident in August.

Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz said Knapik is the sixth person indicted for felony possession charges stemming from carfentanil being found.

He added that “we have several more coming down the pike that will be presented to the grand jury early next year.”

Lutz surmised the increase in drug overdose deaths in Wayne County is most likely connected to the presence of carfentanil and fentanyl.

“My educated guess would be that the recent uptick in overdoses is due largely, if not entirely, to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs like carfentanil,” he said.

Fentanyl is a powerful opiate more commonly used as a painkiller for patients who suffer from terminal cancer. Carfentanil is even more powerful than fentanyl and originally was used as an animal tranquilizer for large animals like elephants.

Both opioids have been found in Ohio laced in, or sold as, heroin.

Knapik already had two pending felony cases this year to bring the total up to three in Wayne County.

One case stems from incidents in March when he was found allegedly in possession of and trafficking heroin and cocaine.

The second case involves an incident in April when he was charged with possession of fentanyl and illegal use of food stamps.

By STEVEN F. HUSZAI Staff Writer