Updated: October 1, 2023
With Halloween approaching, the Hawai’i Police Department is reminding the public to be aware of the dangers of fentanyl, which has been recovered by police during drug arrests across Hawaiʻi Island.
According to department reports, fentanyl was recovered and multiple arrests were made in recent months from around Hawaiʻi Island including:
- Last month, Area I Vice officers in east Hawaiʻi made six fentanyl related arrests, recovering 475 M-30 fentanyl pills and 0.9 grams of powdered fentanyl.
- On the westside, Area II Vice officers also made six drug arrests last month, recovering 69 M-30 fentanyl pills and 55.7 grams of powdered fentanyl.
- From Jan. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2022, Area I Vice recovered a total of 1,718 M-30 fentanyl pills and a total of 2.3 grams of powdered fentanyl
- From Jan. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2022, Area II recovered 2,550 pills and 218.9 grams of powdered fentanyl.
“This drug is way more dangerous than anything else we’ve encountered in recent years,” said Detective Jesse Kerr, of HPD’s Area I Vice Section in a department press release. He is 24-year-veteran of the department, who has worked in Vice for more than four years.
One of the factors making illicit fentanyl so dangerous is that it is 50 times more deadly than heroin, according to police. Plus just a tiny amount of fentanyl, as little as two milligrams (about one grain of Hawaiian salt) can be fatal in a non-opioid-tolerant person.
In addition, drug traffickers are disguising fentanyl as legitimate prescription pills, such as Adderall, Xanax, and OxyContin, or pressing it in colored pill form such as rainbow fentanyl, according to Hawaiʻi Island police.
“We used to see blue colored pills,” said Detective Kerr “and now we’re seeing fentanyl pills in all different colors as the drug traffickers try to elude law enforcement.”
“The risk is that people might unintentionally ingest something not realizing it may contain fentanyl,” said Captain Thomas Shopay, of HPD’s Area II Criminal Investigation Division. “People of all ages should always make sure they know the origin of the medication they take and to not take pills from unknown sources, even if they come from friends.” He said that the drug landscape is dramatically different from even just a few years ago and encourages all parents and caregivers to be educated about current drug threats and to have informed talks with their kids.
What parents and caregivers need to know about illicit fentanyl and fake pills
- Encourage open and honest communication with your kids.
- Explain what fentanyl is and why it is so dangerous.
- Stress not to take any pills that were not prescribed to you from a doctor.
- No pill purchased on social media is safe.
- Make sure they know fentanyl has been found in most illegal drugs.
- Create an “exit plan” to help your child know what to do if they are pressured to take a pill or use drugs.
- Drug traffickers are using social media to advertise drugs and conduct sales. If you have a smartphone and a social media account, then a drug trafficker can find you. This also means they can find your kids who have social media accounts.
- To learn about emoji codes used on social media, visit Emoji Drug Code Decoded on www.dea.gov/onepill
If you encounter prescription medication or drugs of unknown origin, don’t touch them. Try to determine the item’s identity by checking with people who could have placed it there. If unable to determine its origin and the drug-related item seems suspicious, notify police.
Recognize fentanyl poisoning
An individual experiencing fentanyl poisoning may exhibit one or more of the following:
- Drowsiness or unresponsiveness
- constricted or pinpoint pupils
- slow or no breathing
- If these signs are observed, call 911 and provide a description of the circumstances. Follow directions from the dispatcher until emergency medical services arrive.
An option may be to administer Naloxone, if it is available and you have received training in its administration. The Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center offers a free dose of Naloxone to all residents of Hawai‘I at https://www.hhhrc.org/naloxone.
Below are additional resources available to help further your education on this topic:
DEA Counterfeit Pills Fact Sheet
Get Smart About Drugs – DEA resource for parents, educators and caregivers
Additionally, households with unused or expired prescription medication may dispose of them at drop boxes at various locations across the state.