In the past several years, overdose deaths involving cocaine have spiked in South Carolina.
While officials say this type of overdose was likely under-reported in the past, some law enforcement officials across the state say the culprit in recent cocaine-related deaths may be illicit fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that’s emerged at the center of the nation’s deadly opioid crisis.
“We’re seeing a phenomenon now that I don’t think anybody could’ve predicted. We’re finding a lot of cocaine laced with fentanyl,” said Jason Sandoval, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Charleston office. “We’re having to tell (drug users) that the cocaine you’re smoking could be laced with fentanyl. You could go into respiratory arrest.”