Q13 FOX Season of Giving

$2M worth of ‘fentanyl’ seized in bust turns out to be sugar, lab finds

WILMINGTON, N.C. – Some might call the new details in a massive “fentanyl” bust a little bittersweet.

On July 13, three people were arrested after deputies seized what was believed to be nearly 13 pounds of the deadly opioid fentanyl in a Wilmington, North Carolina drug raid.

Early on, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office tested several samples of the powder from each bag with a Scott Company Drug Testing CSI field test kit and determined the substance was fentanyl, according to WECT.

But, when the state lab tested the powder again, they realized it wasn’t. Just last week, new results from a NMS labs private lab test confirmed the true identity of the powder: ordinary sugar.

Brewer said the latest test found the powder to be “a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates,” or plain sugars, with no controlled or non-controlled substances mixed in.

As a result of the error, the fentanyl charges against the three suspects were dropped.

Lt. Jerry Brewer told WECT that the CSI technician did use the test kit correctly, and there was no user error in this false positive.

Following the initial raid, the sheriff’s office thought they had found more than $2 million worth of fentanyl.

They had also found heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to deputies.

Deputies searched the home after tips that heroin was being sold there. Several undercover deputies had bought drugs there, according to WECT.

It’s just the latest incident in which a field test has led law enforcement astray. A Florida man was arrested, strip-searched and jailed after officers thought icing crumbs from a glazed doughnut were meth.