Troopers warn of lethal batch of drugs in Mat-Su causing at least 3 deaths and several overdoses

Alaska State Troopers issued a warning Friday about what they describe as a lethal batch of illegal drugs likely containing fentanyl that’s causing a rise in overdoses in Mat-Su.

Since April 1, the drugs have caused at least three deaths and at least 11 overdose emergencies have been reported, troopers said in an alert. Fentanyl, which is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, is sold either as pills or added to street drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin because it’s cheap and produces a strong high. The substance is driving Alaska’s high rate of overdoses, authorities say.

The alert cautions people using illegal drugs in Mat-Su to “take extra caution” due to the high potency of the drugs in circulation while also generally discouraging the use of substances such as heroin and methamphetamine.

Asked what form the drugs involved in the overdoses came in, troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said the agency was still working to identify the makeup of the batch causing the overdoses and deaths.

At this point, troopers are tracking a significant increase in overdose deaths only in Mat-Su, McDaniel said. An Anchorage Police Department spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

The Alaska Department of Health’s Project Hope provides naloxone — which can help reverse an overdose and is commonly referred to by the brand name Narcan — free of charge.

Troopers say Southcentral Alaska law enforcement authorities are investigating the source of the drugs.