PORTLAND, Ore. — Deputies with the Special Investigations Unit of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office seized 92,000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop on Sunday. According to the agency, they also seized three pounds of cocaine laced with the potent synthetic opioid — an increasing trend, they said.
Though the bust was a significant one, intercepting some of the product bound for streets in the Portland metro area, health care providers have plenty of proof that these drugs are already everywhere.
"Not a huge shock at all," said Tracey Moore.
Moore is a nurse in the emergency department at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Moore said Thursday that during one shift as recently as last week, four people overdosing on fentanyl came into the emergency department.
"It's very difficult to process, because this is someone's brother, sister, child, mother, father," Moore said.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, in 2021 nearly a third of Oregon's counties saw more people die from a fentanyl overdose than from any other type of overdose. And that same year, authorities seized 1.3 million pills laced with fentanyl. That is a more than 1000% increase from 2019.
"The good news is we have a lot of tools right now," pharmacist Anthony Tran said. "There could be more. I'm sure people are working on that, but we work with what we have."
Tran is referring to naloxone, commonly known under the brand name Narcan. It is a nasal spray that can bring people back from a fentanyl overdose.
"Oregon has a robust initiative to make it available to people," Tran said.
Perhaps it has never been more important than right now.
Fentanyl seems to be everywhere. If ingested, the tiniest amount can kill. With that in mind, just imagine if the drugs seized earlier this week actually made it to the streets.
"It's a sad and scary thing that we're aware of because we're trying to figure out how to best deal with it," Moore said.
During Sunday's bust, deputies also seized about 10 pounds of methamphetamine. Arrested in the process were 23-year-old Easton Hallock and 24-year-old Talulah Miroff, and both were booked into the Clackamas County jail on possession charges.