Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA Headquarters

June 06, 2017

Contact: National Media Affairs Office

Phone Number: (202) 307-1000

DEA Warns Local Law Enforcement And First Responders About The Dangers Of Fentanyl Exposure

Roll call video advises law enforcement to exercise extreme caution

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is releasing an updated video message to law enforcement nationwide about the dangers of handling fentanyl and its deadly consequences. 

Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg and two local police detectives from New Jersey appear on the video to urge law enforcement personnel who come in contact with fentanyl or fentanyl compounds to take the drugs directly to a lab. 

Two Atlantic County, NJ detectives were recently exposed to a very small amount of fentanyl, and appeared on the video. “I thought that was it,” the detective said. “I thought I was dying. It felt like my body was shutting down.”

“Fentanyl is deadly,” Acting Administrator Rosenberg warns in the video. “Exposure to an amount equivalent to a few grains of sand can kill you. You can be in grave danger even if you unintentionally come into contact with fentanyl. This message about fentanyl could save your life or the life of a colleague, so please listen.”

“The opioid epidemic nationwide has caused havoc and heartbreak for our children, friends and neighbors,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Any fentanyl exposure can kill innocent law enforcement, first responders and the public. As we continue to fight this epidemic, it is critical that we provide every tool necessary to educate the public and law enforcement about the dangers of fentanyl and its deadly consequences.”

In March 2015, DEA issued a nationwide alert on fentanyl as a threat to health and public safety. Fentanyl is a dangerous, powerful Schedule II narcotic responsible for an epidemic of overdose deaths within the United States. During the last three years, the distribution of clandestinely manufactured fentanyl has been linked to an unprecedented outbreak of thousands of overdoses and deaths. The overdoses are occurring at an alarming rate. Fentanyl, up to 50 times more potent than heroin, is extremely dangerous to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it. As a result, it represents an unusual hazard for law enforcement.

Acting Administrator Rosenberg cautions police not to field test any substance they suspect may contain fentanyl and reminds them that police dogs are also vulnerable, so police K-9 handlers must be careful. “Something that looks like heroin could be pure fentanyl-assume the worst,” he said. “Don’t touch these substances or their wrappings without the proper personal protective equipment.”

DEA has issued guidelines for proper handling. Those guidelines and the roll call video are available here: https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/fentanyl.shtml .

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