Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to treat severe pain. It is so powerful that it can be fatal if it is absorbed through the skin. The effects of an overdose can range from respiratory problems to death. In recent years, the use of methamphetamine in Tennessee has stabilized, but the use of heroin has increased again.
This influx of heroin could be even more dangerous, as it is sometimes mixed with an even more potent narcotic called fentanyl. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has identified the top 10 drugs that are most commonly screened in Tennessee cases submitted to TBI crime labs for analysis by law enforcement. Many of these drugs are well-known, while some are more obscure. Through data collected from samples sent to TBI crime laboratories by law enforcement agencies across the state, the deputy director of the TBI Forensic Services Division, Mike Lyttle, and the special agent in charge, Jim Williams, discussed the drug trends they are seeing in Tennessee this year. The TBI expects cocaine to be the fifth most common drug this year, with a projection of 1,832 cases. Fentanyl cases account for approximately 13.3% of the cases TBI sees in reports.
Williams said that about five or six years ago, it was discovered that there weren't many methamphetamine labs in the area because much of the methamphetamine in the area came from Atlanta from Mexico. He said this was because it was much more profitable. Lyttle added that in the crime lab, it's easy to tell what methamphetamine was made in a domestic lab compared to what was imported. He said methamphetamine made in home labs looks like dust and has a low concentration of methamphetamine, while imported methamphetamine can come in the form of “crystals, sometimes the size of a fist.” TBI projects that there will be 10,112 methamphetamine-related cases this year. The use of narcotics is a serious problem in Franklin, Tennessee and across the state. Fentanyl and methamphetamine are two of the most commonly used drugs and pose a significant risk to public health and safety.
It is important for law enforcement agencies to stay informed about drug trends and take appropriate action to reduce drug use and abuse.