Fentanyl – Laced Heroin: The Real Cost of a $10.00 High

Your Guide to Understanding Risks and Consequences of Fentanyl-laced Heroin

guns-needlesjpg-1--226x300Imagine the lethal game of “Russian Roulette”, but with different rules of chance.

Let’s say the chambers in a revolver with 6 rounds are all loaded with bullets, with the exception of only one chamber.

As if the risks weren’t enough in the traditional game.  They just increased drastically.

Now it means there is an only one in six chance you will survive the game, instead of a 5 in six chance of survival.

That leaves the player with less than 17% chance of survival, and an 83% chance of fatality.

Those are near the same odds of fatality when a person uses heroin laced with the super opiate known as Fentanyl.

Officials in Arizona as well as other parts of the country are on high alert as it leaves a path of fatalities and grieving families to mourn the loss of loved ones.

The Centers for Disease Control collected data that concluded that over the last 15 years, overdose deaths involving prescription and illicit opioid overdose deaths surged, and that this spike was largely driven by heroin.

In this article we will discuss the following topics intended to raise awareness and to provide general resource information.  Topics include:

  • Fentanyl & Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
  • Fentanyl Laced – Heroin – A Lethal Mix
  • Fentanyl – Laced Heroin Law Enforcement Seizures, and Trends
  • Narcotic Laws and Penalties including Fentanyl –Laced Heroin in Arizona
  • Good Samaritan Laws: Proposed Legislation
  • How to Detect Heroin Laced Fentanyl
  • Arizona Criminal Defense for Narcotic Drug Crimes

                                                                      Fentanyl & Signs of Overdose  

pills-1328824-639x440-150x150Fentanyl is a synthetic highly addictive prescription drug.  It is one of the strongest medications sold to relieve chronic as well as postoperative pain.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency Early Warning Systems Fentanyl by itself is 20 to 40 times more potent than heroin, and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

It is often used during surgery with anesthesia to help with post operative pain, cancer treatment, or other serious pain when other opioids are no longer effective to relieve the pain.

If a person suffers an overdose of Fentanyl, due to its potency, it takes more life saving treatment to combat it.

Fentanyl works to depress the respiratory system, but that’s also what leads to fatality in the event of overdose.

Fentanyl costs less to manufacture, and some consider it a better product than less potent drugs like Percocet or oxycodone.

According to the National Institute on Drug (NID) street names are include dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT,  tango, cash, or China white.

Fentanyl is a Schedule II Narcotic which classifies it as the most potent opioid available for medical use.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that Fentanyl alone, is potentially lethal, and even so at lower levels.   A dose as small as 0.25 mg can cause fatality, and has resulted in overdoses occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States.

Fentanyl can be administered by transdermal skin patch, or pill form. It can also be snorted or smoked.

It is important to recognize the early signs of possible overdose which include:

  • Extreme drowsiness;
  • Depressed breathing, respiratory distress, or pulmonary edema;
  • Extreme blood pressure variances;
  • Irregular heartbeat;
  • Disorientation and confusion;
  • Dizzy or lightheadedness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Sweating, fever, or wet skin;
  • Difficulty walking or taking;
  • Seizures;
  • Loss of Consciousness

If you experience these signs after taking Fentanyl or you observe someone else experiencing them, it is important to seek treatment immediately.

                                           Fentanyl Laced – Heroin – A Lethal Combination 

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In cases where a patient becomes addicted to the prescription medication, often turn to heroin.

The feel it’s easier to get on the street, without a doctor’s prescription, and more affordable than prescription pain killers.

After while however, even heroin is not enough to achieve the desired effect as the user’s tolerance increases.

This results in demand for a more potent drug.  In response to this demand, the dealers offer mixed combinations of drugs like fentanyl-laced heroin and other opiates.

The DEA warned that one small dose the size of a few grains of salt when mixed with heroin can be a fatal dose.

It is sometimes difficult to detect the presence of Fentanyl when it is mixed with white powdered heroin.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl laced street drug such as heroin or cocaine, will markedly amplify its potency and dangers.

It has a stronger concentration than either morphine or heroin by itself, and when it is included in a heroin will produce more toxic results.

Those addicted to opioids are often attracted to drugs so potent that they cause coma or death.  This is usually the result of disillusionment of its dangers and risks.  They mistakenly feel that they can tolerate a drug, drug that resulted in a fatality to another user.

In an effort to respond to market demand for a more potent high, dealers are lacing their products with the opiate Fentanyl.  They can sell it cheap, for about $10.00 on the street.

But a stronger high, equates to more danger and higher health risks.

A recent valley toxicologist reported that this combination of heroin and Fentanyl has sent users into comas, stopped their breathing, and sometimes lead to death.

Other users may be unaware that the heroin they purchased or are using was laced with fentanyl, making it even more dangerous to the user that has no tolerance at all to Fentanyl.

  Fentanyl – Laced Heroin and Law Enforcement Arizona

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The DEA considers heroin a serious and increasing threat in Arizona, and noted that the increase in heroin use is due to the increase in opiate-based prescription drugs.  A DEA report has reported that both heroin and methamphetamine seizures have increased almost 300% in Arizona in the last five years.

In 2015, agencies seized close to 6,400 pounds of meth in Arizona.  However, the DEA seized no meth labs in Arizona that year.  Due to a United States crackdown on chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine (such as over-the-counter pseudoephedrine), Mexican drug cartels have become the leading manufacturer and supplier of meth in the United States, controlling about 90% of the trade coming into the country.

Drug Laws and Penalties for Fentanyl –Laced Heroin in Arizona

 Both heroin and Fentanyl are narcotic drugs that are prohibited under A.R.S. section 13-3408.  Heroin possession is considered a serious felony in Arizona.  Felonies are divided into six classes, with the most serious felonies categorized as Class 1 felonies and the least serious falling into Class 6.  Each of the classes of felonies has a punishment range.

Possession or use of Fentanyl-laced heroin is considered a class 4 felony.  The possible penalty is a range of 1-3.75 years of imprisonment.  The court will also impose a fine of $2,000 or three times the value of the narcotic, whichever of these is greater.  The punishment is presumed to be at least 2 1/2 years in prison.  Any mitigating or aggravating factors in your case can result in a reduction or increase of this presumptive period of incarceration within the range.   jail-vector-2-150x150

Possessing equipment or chemicals to manufacture a narcotic and obtaining a narcotic by fraud are Class 3 felonies.  You can face a range of 3-8.75 years in prison if you are convicted of either of these.  Charges for Possession for sale, manufacturing, administering, and transporting for sale, are brought as Class 2 felonies.  You can face a range of 3-12.5 years in prison if you are convicted of any of these.

In addition to prison or jail time, you may also have to pay fines, serve probation, and complete community restitution hours. Penalties are increased when a Fentanyl-laced heroin violation occurs in a school zone.

All of these prison sentences apply only for non-dangerous and non-repetitive felony charges. Repeat offenders are divided into three categories, depending on the nature of the prior felony conviction. If you are considered a Category 3 repetitive offender, you can be sentenced to 6-15 years for simply possessing heroin.

Arizona Proposed Legislation for Good Samaritan Laws

Following a drug overdose minutes and seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

Emergency medical treatment must be administered immediately, in order for the user to survive.

The FDA approved lifesaving drug called Narcan (generic name, naloxone) can reverse a drug overdose, used by First Responders to a #911 call.    Ambulance-911-emergency-pictogram-2-1306258-2-300x300

Arizona recently passed a law allowing administration of this drug by First Responders that may include ambulance technicians, police officers, and other caretakers who arrive on scene of an overdose.

Unfortunately, when an overdose occurs, the victims, and friends are reluctant to call #911 for fear of arrest and prosecution.   So in those cases, where medical treatment is not immediately administered, it is too late to save the victim.

In response to this problem, at least 34 states in the US have passed Good Samaritan laws which provide immunity from prosecution to those calling #911, or victims seeking emergency medical treatment.

In January 2016, Arizona House Bill (HB) 2089 was introduced and is working its way through the legislative process.

HB 2089 in its current form would shield callers of #911 or victims, if the evidence used to prosecute them, was obtain in the process of seeking or administering the emergency medical treatment.  It is expected to pass, in some form.

The most important thing to keep in mind following an overdose as a victim or a bystander, is getting medical help as quickly as possible.  A person’s life depends on it.

Drug charges should be the secondary issue.  If you are arrested, you can retain a criminal defense attorney to defend your charges and protect your fights.  It is much easier to defend a criminal charge than to save a life following a fatal overdose.

But most importantly, if you believe you or someone you care for is addicted to drugs, you should seek medical treatment before anything tragic happens.

Following a drug overdose minutes and seconds can mean the difference between life and death.   Emergent medical treatment must be administered immediately, in order for the user to survive.

The FDA approved lifesaving drug called Narcan (generic name, naloxone) can reverse a drug overdose, used by First Responders to a #911 call.

Arizona recently passed a law allowing administration of this drug by First Responders that may include ambulance technicians, police officers, and other caretakers who arrive on scene of an overdose.

Unfortunately, when an overdose occurs, the victims, and friends are reluctant to call #911 for fear of arrest and prosecution.   So in those cases, where medical treatment is not immediately administered, it may be too late to save the victim.

In response to this problem, at least 34 states in the US have passed Good Samaritan laws which provide immunity from prosecution to those calling #911, or victims seeking emergency medical treatment.

In January 2016, Arizona House Bill (HB) 2089 was introduced and is working its way through the legislative process.

HB 2089 in its current form would shield callers of #911 or victims, if the evidence used to prosecute them, was obtain in the process of seeking or administering the emergency medical treatment.  It is expected to pass, in some form.

The most important thing to keep in mind following an overdose as a victim or a by stander, is getting medical help as quickly as possible.  A person’s life depends on it.

Drug charges should be the secondary issue.  If you are arrested, you can retain a criminal defense attorney to defend your charges and protect your fights.  It is much easier to defend a criminal charge than to save a life following a fatal overdose.

But most importantly, if you believe you or someone you care for is addicted to drugs, you should seek medical treatment before anything tragic happens.

How to Detect Heroin Laced Fentanyl   

Many who overdose were not aware that the fentanyl was laced with heroin.  While only an appropriately equipped laboratory can accurately detect an opiate laced with Fentanyl, the DEA has reported the following signs and safety precautions:  magnifying-glass-481818_640-150x150

  • Heroin has more of a yellow tint when it is pure. But when laced with Fentanyl it is more white color;
  • Don’t use it. But if you are going to use, never use heroin while you are alone, or in combination with other drugs or alcohol;
  • Pure heroin has an acidic vinegar odor. When it is cut with fentanyl the odor is different;
  • Be aware of the risks, dangers, and early signs of potential overdose. Common early signs include drowsiness, sleepiness; difficulty breathing, or respiratory distress.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Narcotic Drug Crimes in Mesa AZ 

“Prepared to Defend”  – James Novak, Law Office of James Novak, PLLC 

If you are James Novak Attorneyfound guilty of possessing more than one gram of heroin, this will establish a mandatory charge of intent to sell or deliver, even if the actual evidence is that you are holding the heroin in your home in a private stash. You will automatically receive a class 2 felony charge.

No matter how serious your charges may be, you still have the right to defend them and retain an effective criminal defense attorney to represent you.

James Novak, an experienced DUI and drug crimes attorney, is a former prosecutor and highly skilled trial lawyer. If he is retained, he can develop  a strong defense to your charges.

He will determine what defense may apply and evaluate your case to determine if any violation of rights occurred.  He will work hard to make sure you are treated fairly and to obtain the best possible resolution in your case.

Our office offers a free initial consultation for active criminal charges in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Scottsdale, Arizona. You can contact or call The Law Office of James Novak at (480) 413-1499 and speak with James Novak for your free and confidential initial consultation.

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