HAYWARD, Calif. - Police say a new type of soft, gummy, brightly colored fentanyl is emerging in the Bay Area and they are warning the public to be alert for this toxic opioid.
Hayward Police say they didn't know what the brightly colored drug was at first.
"We discovered it with some of our officers on patrol,' said Cassondra Fovel, a Hayward Police Dept. spokeswoman, "It almost has a gummy-like texture. It's sort of squishy. And the color was very bright. In this instance we encountered the purple fentanyl."
The bright color was a surprise to officers. Fentanyl is usually in a pill, patch, or white powder form, originally developed as an extremely potent prescription painkiller.
"It's up to 50 times more toxic than heroin and up to 100 times more toxic than morphine," said Fovel.
Hayward Police say it was alarming to find this new colored fentanyl emerging in the community. The soft substance was apparently being heated and used by injection or smoking.
"We know of three different colors. There's yellow, blue, and purple and each signifies a different level of potency and strength," said Fovel.
Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly says county narcotics investigators are also seeing colored fentanyl.
"We've seen some recent cases where we've found it," said Sgt. Kelly, sharing a photo from a drug bust a few weeks ago where deputies seized bags of purple- and pink-colored fentanyl powder.
"It's a marketing tool similar to how you would market food or products to the community," said Sgt. Kelly, "It does catch your eye. And we're worried about children finding that substance maybe in a home or where there are illicit drugs."
Police say contact with fentanyl even in tiny amounts can be deadly.
Marion Kregeloh of Greenbrae lost her son Alex Movahedi, 25, to fentanyl.
"The number one reason I am willing to share my story is to prevent it for anyone else," said Kregeloh.
She says Alex died after an accidental exposure to fentanyl in a pill form.
"That contained fentanyl when he thought it was Xanax and that killed him," said Kregeloh.
Kregeloh and other community activists say this latest colored fentanyl is an example of how important it is to spread the word.
"I speak almost daily if not weekly with friends, acquaintances who don't know that that is a danger out there," said Kregeloh, "Families have to be informed, schools have to be informed, meetings, gatherings have to happen."
Police say if you see a substance you think might be fentanyl, do not touch it. Call police immediately so it can be safely removed and tested.