DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking for a potential link between fake Percocet pills that turned into the state’s crime lab and the drugs involved in a mass overdose in middle Georgia.
On May 25, Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne was at the GBI crime lab chemistry section, where experts basically warned about the counterfeit drug danger facing Georgians.
“You actually sent a warning out about counterfeit drugs just a couple weeks ago?” Winne asked Nelly Miles, with the GBI.
“Yes, we sent a warning about this,” Miles said. “We were hoping to let the public know that this could present a serious danger.”
That warning came just days before suspected counterfeit Percocet cut a deadly swath through middle Georgia.
“This is really the worse-case scenario. This is the very thing that we hoped would not happen,” GBI crime lab drug chemistry expert Dineen Kilcrease told Winne.
Kilcrease said in late May, crime lab scientist Stephanie Mendendez discovered a pill marked as oxycodone - but containing a potentially deadly mix of stronger ingredients then real, and often abused, oxycodone.
She said that led to a quick database search that found 454 cases, some going back to 2015 involving counterfeit pills-- many also with ingredients far more potent than the real thing and thus potentially deadly.
Kilcrease said six of the 454 cases were counterfeit Percocet cases from metro Atlanta and Troup County.
Troup County sheriff's Sgt. Nathan Taylor said in 2015, he stopped a suspect along Interstate 85 from metro Atlanta who had roughly 1,300 yellow counterfeit percocet pills made in an illegal, clandestine lab, possibly in Georgia. They were pills that contained the often deadly drug fentanyl -- which is many times more potent than Percocet.
Kilcrease said there's no reason to believe so far that those six cases are related to the counterfeit Percocet that's suspected in a rash of middle Georgia overdoses this week, except it all signifies the deadly danger of pills purchased off the street.
Kilcrease said oxycodone and Xanax appear to be the most counterfeited street drugs in Georgia and that the deadly ingredients in the fakes are often cheaper and easier to get than the correct ones.
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