Recent drug bust is latest example of growing fentanyl problems

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 7:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Around 22,000 pills were found in a recent bust in Hinds County.

They looked like oxycodone, but turned out to be Tylenol and fentanyl which Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director Steven Maxwell says has become all too common.

“To the natural eye, even some professionals, pharmacists, physicians and even law enforcement professionals cannot distinguish between these fake pills and pharmaceutical grade pills because of the science and technology that’s now being used to produce these pills,” described Maxwell. “And the presses make these pills look similar to something that came out of, you know, a pharmacy lab at Eli Lilly or Pfizer.”

Rep. Lee Yancey authored a pill press bill this legislative session that was later signed into law by the governor.

“This would be an enhanced penalty if the pill press were not registered with the Bureau of Narcotics, an additional five years in prison or $5,000,” noted Yancey. “And that would be at the judge’s discretion. But those are enhanced penalties designed to try and curtail this terrible epidemic.”

It’s part of a larger attempt by the legislature to crack down on the growing fentanyl problem.

“You know, it’s just a reminder,= every time that there is a drug bust or every time there’s an overdose death, that, you know, you don’t know what is in these pills,” added Yancey. “And you can’t risk it, one pill can kill.”

Maxwell says there are more of those pill presses in the state than you’d expect. They find them in busts or through investigations that show people buying them online and using them to make counterfeit drugs.

They believe this batch was made out of state, but they’re warning not to take any pills that didn’t come straight from a pharmacy or doctor.

“The alarm has been sounded,” stressed Maxwell. “And so the public needs to have a very high sense of awareness when it comes to consuming pills.”

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