Nashville faces growing overdose trend amid increased fentanyl-related street sales

Posted at 8:01 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 23:15:50-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a spot where people of all ages and backgrounds frequent, and it's where three men attempted to sell $200 worth of drugs to undercover Metro Police detectives.

"An operation was conducted to address an issue with the sale of fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of several individuals," said Sgt. Mike Hotz with MNPD's Specialized Investigations Division.

The undercover narcotics bust happened over the weekend near Walk of Fame Park in Downtown Nashville. Metro Police have taken Khalil D. Smith, Nesean Thompson, and Michael E. Terry into custody on drug offenses.

"The biggest danger that we see is that the drugs are being posed as one thing when in actuality it's something completely on the opposite side of the spectrum," said Hotz.

Detectives recovered two bags of white powder weighing a total of eleven grams that tested positive for fentanyl, one bag of white rocks that tested positive for cocaine, 23 Xanax bars, and 21 grams of marijuana. The three grams of powder sold to the undercover detective also tested positive for fentanyl.

"You know, when you think of other drugs they're dosed in grams, but fentanyl itself, point two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill an adult human of average size," Hotz said.

He said the trend of fentanyl overdoses in Nashville is beyond staggering.

"So when you think about that, a gram of fentanyl — which is about the size of a sugar packet — contains enough to kill approximately 500 individuals."

"The first time I did fentanyl, that I know about, I had bought some heroin from a guy who I bought heroin from before and it was really extra white," said Rich Johnston, the Founder of Rosecrest Recovery Services.

Johnston overdosed from fentanyl seven times. Each time, he thought he was buying heroin.

"I've seen fentanyl pressed into the shape of Xanax, we know that it's in the meth, it's been in heroin for a long time," said Johnston. "There's just nothing you can get that you can safely assume doesn't contain fentanyl."

Today he is a Certified Intervention Professional and a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist helping others through recovery.

He considers himself lucky to be alive, but he fears luck is running out for others.

"It hasn't slowed down, it's still ramping up," said Johnston. "I don't think that we've seen the worst of it yet, and what stops it? I don't know."

Police say for those seeking treatment for drug addiction, the Community Overdose Response Team (CORT) can help. CORT is a free and confidential resource to help find drug and alcohol treatment for individuals who are at risk of an overdose.

To make a referral or learn more about this resource for our community, call CORT at 615-687-1701.