Radnor police officials confirmed this week that an investigation into a case of suspected fentanyl-laced edibles ingested by area youth found no traces of the deadly opioid.
Yet, because two individuals, both underage, were rushed to the hospital after consuming edibles, police alerted Cabrini officials to communicate the potential dangers.
Radnor Police Lieutenant Joe Pinto said hospital records indicated that no fentanyl was found in their system.
Still, the rise in fentanyl deaths, coupled with an increase of the deadly opioid mixed with other street drugs, put local authorities on high alert, he said.
“We have a report that three females in a vehicle on King of Prussia road had a reaction to edibles,” Pinto, a long-serving member of the Radnor County Drug Task Force, said. “We have concluded from the investigation that the gummy bears were in fact nothing else but cannabinoid.”
With fentanyl being found in more and more street drugs, he said: “You’re taking life into your own hands when taking anything off the streets in Philadelphia,” Lieutenant Joe Pinto, a long-serving member of the Radnor County Drug Task Force, said.
Fentanyl is a highly powerful synthetic opioid that can be mixed or cut with other illicit drugs that can result in overdoses or deaths. According to the DEA, one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.
Joseph Fusco, director of public safety, confirmed Friday, Sept. 24, that the only information regarding the fentanyl-laced edibles that he has is the email that was sent on Monday, Sept. 13.
After an alert was sent Monday, Sept. 13, director of residence life, Brett Buckridge, confirmed Friday that this email did involve students but off-campus. He mentioned he wanted students to be aware and on alert to ensure safety. Fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opioid that police say is being bought and sold in the suburban Philadelphia area.
“We had students involved but not on campus,” Buckridge said. “Other reports from Villanova were similar so we wanted to inform our students to make a safer community.”
Pennsylvania drug prevention officials are reporting similar trends across the state. Ali Gantz, communications director with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said a public health alert went out last week after a “rash of overdoses out in Berks County” and other reports of fentanyl-laced edibles. Edibles include brownies, gummies, candies and other edibles that marijuana can be packaged in.
“We are seeing an increasing trend of fentanyl and xylazine being introduced into varying substances across the commonwealth,” Gantz said. “We encourage individuals to keep naloxone handy at all times in case of an emergency. If you are unsure whether someone may be experiencing an overdose, always err on the side of caution and call 911 immediately.”
In 2020, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 5,172 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, up by more than 14 percent in the previous year. According to data from the Department of Health, preliminary estimates for 2020 show 3,795 drug overdose deaths (75% of drug overdose deaths) involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogs.
*It is noted that Lieutenant Pinto spoke to Cabrini Public Safety and there was no correlation to what happened on KOP road with the Cabrini community.
“The attitude towards drug use is shifting; the marijuana kids are using today is much different,” Pinto said. He emphasized that the marijuana on the street today is much more potent and “effective at doing what it needs to do,” and he considers it ‘a gateway drug.’
“It hurts to know there are people getting hurt, especially those directly affected from our community,” Caroline Boileau, senior criminology and sociology student, said. “I hope those who need help get help.”
When John Mager, a senior history major, saw the Cabrini alert, he got his friend to share it.
“I got my friend to put it on his story because he knows more people that are involved with that contraband,” John Mager, senior history major, said.
There will be more coverage on this story as investigative reporters learn and report more. Please call 911 if you need help or assistance The National Substance Abuse Hotline at 800-662-4357 is also available.