Another tragic turn for the opiate epidemic in Wisconsin. The state now confirms its first case of a drug more potent and lethal than both heroin and fentanyl.
On Tuesday, TODAY'S TMJ4 first reported about a possible case. Thursday the Attorney General's office confirmed a case in St. Croix County in northwest Wisconsin.
"That would be a full five-alarm fire here that we would be worried about," said Wisconsin's Attorney General Brad Schimel.
This week, Schimel first told us about his concerns with the dangerously potent opiate known as cafentanil. It's supposed to be used to sedate elephants.
But now narcotic dealers are using it to boost the potency of heroin.
"The math says carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than the heroin for sale in the street, and what's frightening is there is a demand for it," said Schimel.
Carfentanil is already blamed for a spike in overdose deaths this year in cities like Cincinnati. It's far more deadly that fentanyl, which is on the rise in Milwaukee County.
As of September there were 56 fentanyl overdose deaths in the county this year. That's almost double all of last year, and ten times more than in 2012.
Schimel says fentanyl and carfentanil are coming from clandestine labs south of the US border as well as China, and is sometimes shipped to users in the mail.
"Law enforcement - we are going after the supply side like we always have but this epidemic - this is a public health crisis. We have to go after the demand side," said Schimel.
Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy wants to set up a City-County Heroin and Opioid task force to learn more about the problem and find ways to fight it.
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