A week ago three people were taken to the ER at CRMC. One of them died of a fentanyl overdose while the others survived. They thought they were buying powdered cocaine, but tests later showed they ingested fentanyl.
The synthetic opioid painkiller is often cut into other drugs or even used as a replacement drug, officers said. Some may have no idea they're even using it.
"We knew that there's a lot of cases on the east coast and in the mid-United States and it was making its way to the west coast. We can say with certainty it's here," said Fresno Police Deputy Chief Pat Farmer.
Authorities combed through the Van Ness Avenue apartment where the victims lived to search for clues. They want to trace the source of the fentanyl sale to try to keep the dangerous synthetic drug off Valley streets.
RELATED: Traffic through part of Tower District reopens following hazmat investigation
"This is concerning because fentanyl is more potent than heroin," said Dr. Patil Armenia of UCSF Fresno, adding that "Regular fentanyl is 50 times more potent."
Fentanyl is such a big concern for first responders, including officers. Many of them are equipped with Naloxone to treat overdose victims.
Over the weekend in Chico, a mass overdose linked to fentanyl left one person dead and 12 others hospitalized.
"We don't know that our cases are involved with the other cases in California," said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.
Deputy Chief Pat Farmer says the victims passed out two minutes after using fentanyl.