Only on 6: Sheriff warns carfentanil presence poses possible hazard in public restrooms

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A message of caution tonight from Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

He's urging the public to be vigilant when using public restrooms because of a dangerous drug.

In an exclusive interview this week, a DEA special agent told CBS 6’s Anne McCloy authorities made the first carfentanil bust ever in Upstate New York right here in our area.

The synthetic opioid is commonly added to heroin, and is extremely deadly. It's used commercially to tranquilize elephants. Authorities say even a trace of it left behind on a counter or sink could cause an innocent person to overdose.

“The carfentanil I pray to God it stays out of this locality, but something tells me that it's coming,” Apple said.

25-yr-old Justin Brooker is charged with trying to sell the synthetic opioid to a confidential informant in Gloversville. DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Zon warned there is likely more out there in the Capital Region, but the question is where.

“It’s just a matter of time before we see more of this,” Zon said.

Zon says a lethal amount of carfentanil for a non-opioid user is equivalent to a fraction of a grain of salt.

Apple says it could pose a threat to an innocent person who comes in contact with it.

“I worry young kids who go in to wash their hands, or moms who take their babies in to change their diaper quick, God forbid it gets on the child,” Apple said.

Sheriff Apple says it's a public health concern, because carfentanil is commonly added to heroin, and heroin is commonly used in public restrooms.

“Be careful what you touch, and I don't mean to cause panic and chaos but you need to be vigilant,” Apple said.

Law enforcement agencies have already changed protocols for drug investigations because of a more prevalent synthetic opioid called fentanyl, and the threat it presents to authorities who are trying to process crime scenes.

Apple says the presence of carfentanil adds another layer of concern.

Authorities suit up when working a crime scene where there's synthetic opioids to protect their bodies, and because these deadly drugs can be accidentally inhaled, authorities no longer test powdery substances right there on the spot.

To protect themselves, police are now sending drugs off to the state crime lab for testing to protect their health.

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