More lethal, synthetic pills flood the black market in North Dakota

Local News

A little blue-green pill is the latest trend in illegal drugs turning up on the streets of North Dakota

They go by many names: “blues”, “roxy-codone”, “roxys”, etc.

Agents with the Narcotics Task Force in Bismarck have seized well over 4,000 pills in the last six months. They may look like something you could pick up at a pharmacy, but these little pills are processed in illegal, uncontrolled environments like any other street drug.

Take a look at the pills below. The bigger bag on the left is filled with legitimate pharmaceutical-grade Oxycodone-hydrochloride 30 mg tablets. The smaller bag on the right holds seemingly identical pills that are made on the street and laced with fentanyl.

“If you look really closely, you’ll see that these [on the right] have a slightly greenish tint, where these [on the left] are more of a blue,” shared a Narcotics Task Force Agent with the Bismarck Police Dept.

He asked to remain anonymous for his safety.

The agent says up until about two years ago, drug agents were seizing pharmaceutical pills for the most part. Now it’s predominantly synthetic pills, and they’re becoming more common all the time.

“They’re significantly cheaper to produce and they don’t have to go through any legitimate means to get them,” the Task Force agent explained.

I asked if people think they’re purchasing pharmaceuticals when they buy these pills.

He responded, “I think probably right away when the switch happened, people probably didn’t know. But once opiate addicts got their hands on the fake ones, typically they want them instead of the real ones because they’re fentanyl, they’re significantly stronger.”

Below is a picture of 2 mg of Fentanyl next to a penny, which is considered a deadly dose. The 30 mg pills are cut with anything from methamphetamine to heroin, to acetaminophen.

“These are not created in super controlled environments,” the agent shared.

“One pill could end up with 20 mg in it and that’s a guaranteed death sentence for the person who uses it.”

He says you can tell when a stronger batch comes to a town because overdoses immediately spike, as high as 11 in 30 days.

Back in December, the Dickinson Police Dept. sent out a public alert about a significant increase in fatal and near-fatal overdoses due to the same pills, stamped with the M30.

Since then, Lieutenant Michael Hanel says overdoses are back down, but the drugs haven’t gone anywhere.

“Yeah, we’re coming across them almost daily yet,” shared the Dickinson Police Lieutenant.

The problem goes beyond law enforcement constantly taking more pills off of the streets.

“It’s cheaper for a person to buy these, to use these, than to go to treatment or to get on Suboxone. It’s easier for them to just keep being addicted,” the Task Force agent said.

“There’s not enough room in treatment facilities. They get to the point where they can’t work jobs anymore so they don’t have any health insurance. It just spirals out of control.”

As of right now, law enforcement says all of these synthetic pills are being made out of state, meaning drug dealers have found a big market in North Dakota.

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