Potentially deadly fentanyl-laced pills are in Grand Forks area, police say
Law enforcement are warning Red River Valley residents to be on the lookout for prescription pills they say are laced with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that has been associated with overdoses in Grand Forks and across the country.
An operation conducted Wednesday morning by the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force and northwest Minnesota’s Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force resulted in the confiscation of about 500 oxycodone pills in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Police believe the pills, blue in color and stamped with an “A 215” label, have also been laced with fentanyl.
“These particular pills are responsible for at least one, and possibly as many as three, overdoses in Grand Forks in the past week,” the Grand Forks Police Department wrote in a press release.
Lt. Brett Johnson told the Herald none of the three potential overdoses was fatal, but did not expand on any details of the incidents.
He said law enforcement received information through the investigation that the pills were laced with fentanyl. Police have sent the pills to the state crime lab for analysis. That process can take months on a regular submission, but Johnson said they have put in a request to expedite the process.
“We’re hoping to get some lab confirmation shortly,” Johnson said.
At least one Grand Forks resident has been charged with trafficking pills matching the description given by police.
A search warrant executed Tuesday at the residence of Tucker Christian Collings, 19, turned up 16 bags, each containing 10 blue pills marked “A 215,” according to an affidavit of probable cause filed Wednesday afternoon.
Collings admitted to selling pills to a number of people, according to charging documents. He has been charged with one Class A felony count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver for the pills and an additional Class B felony charge of the same offense after police discovered nearly 46 grams of marijuana wax in his apartment in the 1900 block of South 29th Street.
His initial court appearance is scheduled for Thursday morning.
Pills matching the same description have proved to be fentanyl in cities nationwide. The pills, blue and stamped with “A 215, ” are identified by the website Drugs.com as 30-milligram oxycodone tablets. In June, the Boston Police Department warned the same oxycodone look-alike pills were made entirely of fentanyl, according to the Boston Globe. A similar warning was also issued issued in Layton City, Utah, on June 14.
Grand Forks police are warning citizens not to touch the pills with exposed skin. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin.
The department is encouraging citizens and parents in particular to watch for these pills and be vigilant to any abnormal behavior from their children.
“Some indicators include small ziplock baggies, white or blue powder or pills, pen tubes or other hollow tubes, lethargic or sleepy behavior, a general change in demeanor or activities and a recent change in friendship groups,” police warned.
Law enforcement in Grand Forks and Polk counties are all equipped with prescription drug drop boxes for those wishing to get rid of any prescription pills or other substances.
Police say there are multiple open investigations into the the pills on both sides of the river.