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JOPLIN, Mo. — Strong narcotics like fentanyl are being seen more in Missouri.

“Unfortunately fentanyl is a lot easier to get than some of those other drugs, so I think you’re seeing a rapid rise in fentanyl,” said Sloan Rowland, Ozark Drug Enforcement Team Chairman and Joplin Police Chief.

Back in 2018 when prescription drugs like oxycodone became less available to the general public, many switched to other opioids like heroin and fentanyl. But it wasn’t until last year when the Ozark Drug Enforcement team began to notice a large uptick of the situation.

“About two years ago we were probably seizing I think about 200 grams of fentanyl, the Ozark Drug Enforcement team was. Last year they seized 1,785 grams.”

And with more fentanyl on the streets, there’s bigger chances for fatal consequences.

“I think you’re seeing an increased risk for overdoses for not knowing exactly what you’re taking when you’re taking an illegal drug. We’re seeing marijuana and heroin laced with fentanyl now.”

Once these drugs are taken off the streets the danger isn’t over.

Officers have to be very careful handling some of these drugs because of how potent they are. Even if they just get on your skin, could have dangerous consequences.

“This is a dangerous substance, so even just a little bit of residue could cause great harm, so try to go through extreme cautions in dealing with it. Make sure you have gloves, make sure the packages aren’t open, you don’t want anything to become airborne,” said Captain Will Davis.

To add extra precaution a special drug testing kit is used to test the narcotics.

“Thankfully we have increased technology that’s allowed us to utilize a true narc detective system that we can basically hold it up to the package of the illegal narcotic, it’ll scan it and it will give us a preliminary indication of what that narcotic is.”

But accidents can always happen. So if an officer does happen to come in contact with the drug, there’s always a plan.

“If for some unforeseen reason they do have an exposure we have narc here on site that we can administer and help to bring them out of that,” said Davis.

Once the drugs are tested they are then sent off to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab for a confirmation.