Fentanyl deaths spiking in Decatur as police investigation results in arrest – Yahoo News

Mar. 3—Morgan County's coroner says he has seen a spike in overdose deaths involving the drug fentanyl, and a Decatur police investigation prompted by at least some of those deaths resulted in an arrest this week.
Coroner Jeff Chunn said he recorded five suspected overdose deaths from Feb. 20-28, and at least two of them involved Decatur victims and fentanyl. For the month of February, there were nine suspected overdose deaths in the county and at least three were in Decatur and involved fentanyl. He performed drug screenings on saliva or urine from most of the victims but is awaiting more conclusive lab results from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.
Chunn said fentanyl is usually found locally mixed with heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine.
"It's laced with fentanyl to make it stronger, and the people are dying from it," Chunn said. "The drugs have something that's more powerful than they're used to.
"Very seldom do we see an overdose where it's strictly fentanyl. Usually that's the main culprit or the main source."
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration describes fentanyl as an opioid that's often added to illegally sold drugs, especially heroin, to increase their potency. Fentanyl can be deadly even in small quantities.
Decatur police said in a news release that their investigation into fentanyl trafficking began after responding "to multiple overdose deaths involving the use of illegal narcotics (fentanyl)" over several months.
Police arrested Brittney Nicole Swift, 35, of 622 Holland Court S.W., on Tuesday and charged her with trafficking in illegal drugs (fentanyl) after a search of her residence.
An affidavit filed by Decatur Investigator Brandon Sain said the search of Swift's residence found 9 grams of fentanyl, 0.7 of a gram of methamphetamine and four 2-milligram pills of alprazolam, which is the generic name for Xanax. Sain wrote that police also found "baggies, foil pipes and digital scales consistent with the sale of narcotics."
Swift also was charged with felony distribution of a controlled substance, three counts of possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Swift remained in Morgan County Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $508,300. She filed an affidavit in Morgan County District Court stating she had no income or liquid assets, and attorney Russ Prickett was appointed to represent her.
The investigation is ongoing and further charges are expected, police said.
According to Alabama Department of Public Health statistics, 1,027 Alabamians died from overdoses in 2020, and 614 of those involved the use of opioids.
—brucem@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2431. Twitter @BruceMcLellan1
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