RAVENNA, Ohio — The Portage County Sheriff's Office is warning residents about a rise in fake pills that look like prescription drugs.
"You're playing Russian roulette every time you use. You don't know where your dealer gets these pills," said Steven Lincoln, the commander of Portage County Drug Task Force. "Every time you take that pill, you don't know if you're going to wake up from your high."
Lincoln said law enforcement throughout Ohio have noticed a rise in cases in which heroin or fentanyl are being pressed into pill form with machines and made to look like prescription medications.
"That would lead the user, the consumer, to believe that they're taking a prescription medication when really it's either pure fentanyl or fentanyl mixed with heroin," he said.
Lincoln said many of the pills discovered in recent month resemble Percocet or Xanex, an anxiety drug.
"People know the need for Xanex is high right now, so drug dealers are taking advantage of that," Lincoln said.
There have been 28 confirmed or suspected overdose deaths in Portage County in 2021. Eight of those cases happened in the last seven weeks.
The county reported 30 overdose deaths on 2019 and 44 overdose deaths in 2020.
While investigators can't say how many of those deaths were the result of pressed pills, the prevalence of the dangerous drugs make police worry about more potential overdoses.
"It's very scary," Lincoln said.
Last week, the Portage County Sheriff's Office posted pictures showing 14 grams of fentanyl and $600 in cash taht was taken during an undercover drug buy.
Lincoln warned that whether the fentanyl or heroin comes in powder or pill form, the potent drugs can quickly turn lethal. Therefore, he's sending out an urgent plea to users and their families.
"Get into a support group. Find a way to get off this poison," he said.