FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fentanyl is typically found in many street drugs including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, police and experts tell WANE 15.

But when you make your purchase, you may not be getting what you think.

Nate Moellering, community outreach director at Fort Wayne Recovery, says overdose rates are climbing because manufacturing and distribution methods have changed.

U.S. distributors may be sloppy when they “cut” cocaine. Fentanyl can accidentally end up in a plastic baggie and cause a deadly overdose.

What were once strict controls over drugs produced south of the border have entered a free-for-all as U.S. dealers cut out the international middleman.

Meanwhile, cocaine, one of the powder type drugs, has become more popular than ever as the chosen “recreational drug,” particularly with the young professionals and is the “new marijuana,” Moellering said.  

One of the biggest dangers is the shift from Mexican-produced fake Percocet pills to U.S. manufactured ones. Moellering called a press conference last week at the Allen County Courthouse downtown to say a particularly bad batch of Fentanyl was causing more drug overdoses than usual.

Nothing has changed in the last few days, Moellering said.

“These counterfeit pills started coming from Mexico and Mexico had really good quality control with their fake pills, even their meth,” Moellering said.  Bad pills started happening after local crime dealers and distributors decided to cut the Mexicans out of the manufacturing process. Now when police raid houses, not necessarily in Fort Wayne, “they’re finding the pill presses, blue dye, cutting agents and making their own pills.

“The problem is they’ve got some guy cranking out as many pills as possible. He’s not measuring it out. He’s just dumping this stuff. You can get 10 pills. You can take nine pills and the last one could have 10 milligrams in it and (you could) be dead in 20 minutes,” Moellering explained.

For the first two weeks in July, the Fort Wayne Police Department had 60 reported overdoses, a very high number. But that’s 60 that were reported, Moellering pointed out. With the distribution of free NARCAN, a nasal spray containing naloxone used to revive overdose victims, it could be much higher because “a lot of people don’t call anymore so the number could easily be twice that in two weeks.”

Last week, Moellering said he knew two of the victims. “It’s been tough.”

Through June, there are 53 confirmed fatal overdoses and 48 pending toxicology which may put Fort Wayne on the road to hitting the record high set last year with 173, even with free Narcan distribution.

Moellering says it’s unlikely Fentanyl is showing up in plant-based marijuana, but is seeing an increase in cocaine use.

Nate Moellering, community outreach director at Fort Wayne Recovery, says overdose rates are climbing because manufacturing and distribution methods have changed.

Because cocaine is the new marijuana, he worries even more deaths will occur from unsuspecting users. Fentanyl is often found in cocaine and if the dealer/manufacturer “is not super careful with his drugs, it’s likely you’re going to get 2 milligrams in someone’s dose.

“Do you think he wipes it (the counter) down from sanitizing?” Moellering asked.

It only takes 2 milligrams of Fentanyl for a dose to be deadly, he said, although some users build up a tolerance. Two milligrams is the equivalent to two grains of salt. If a user gets pills or compromised cocaine from an unsanitary batch, the result is easily an overdose, Moellering said.

Drugs are sold differently, too, in a “DoorDash” method. Deals are set up on Snapchat, a social media website where messages disappear so quickly police have difficulty obtaining evidence, Moellering said. Payment is made digitally and anonymously on cash app or other apps and users tend toward burner phones, disposable cell phone purchased with prepaid minutes and no contract, making it difficult to trace.

Parents should be aware of any changes in appearance or habits of their children and look to see if they are making small purchases of $20, $30 or $40, Moellering said.