DEA warns of dangers of fentanyl as popularity increases

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It takes just a tiny amount of the drug fentanyl to kill a person and police now have new concerns after some was found in Rockford.

It's the new trend in hard drugs, and police say it's killing users at an alarming rate. Fentanyl usually mixed with heroin is 50 times more potent than heroin.

"The potency it has to take lives, it’s definitely concerning," DEA Resident Agent in Charge, Brent Williams, said.

Rockford Police announced on November 29 about two pounds of fentanyl was found during one of the biggest drug busts in the department’s history.

"Just the fact that the one kilo, the smaller portion of the large seizure that was taken off the street will absolutely save some lives," Glenn Haas, DEA Special Agent in Charge, said.

Two pounds might not seem like much until you break it down like this: The amount of fentanyl equal to two grains of salt is enough to kill someone.

"The ones on the street they're not chemists. They're eyeing it up, making a guess and they're selling it," Haas said.

The Winnebago County Coroner’s Office says fentanyl was involved in seven overdose deaths so far this year. Those numbers have held steady over the last few years.

"The representation of deaths is only a small amount to the people that are overdosing and are saved," Williams explained.

While agents at the DEA are going after sellers, it's partnering with groups to warn us of the dangers of fentanyl in hopes of preventing more deaths.

Rockford firefighters have saved the lives of hundreds of overdose patients. So far this year they say they've had 184 calls. That's 12 percent more than this time last year.