STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)- Police in Steamboat Springs are searching for a man, they say, who sent his 5-year-old daughter to school with a bag of cocaine. The kindergartner's teacher found the drugs in the hood of the little girl's coat when she gave her a hug as she walked into class.
"It was completely shocking," says Steamboat Springs Detective Sam Silva, who says the little girl and her mom were unaware of the drugs.
He suspects her dad put the cocaine in his daughter's coat when he divorced his wife and moved to a new apartment recently.
Silva wouldn't say how much cocaine the teacher found, only that it was a large quantity.
What concerns him, even more, is that many street drugs like cocaine are being mixed with fentanyl, the drug that killed five people in Commerce City last month.
Silva says he doesn't know yet if the cocaine on the kindergartner had fentanyl in it, but he can't help but think about what might have happened had she discovered it instead of her teacher.
"If she would have gotten into that, just being cocaine or given to friends not knowing what it was, it would have killed multiple children, just cocaine is that lethal."
Two milligrams of fentanyl - less than a grain of salt - can kill you. Dealers are not only mixing it with cocaine, but spraying it on marijuana, and pressing it into pills being sold as Xanax and Oxycodone.
"The problem with those pills is they're made on the black market so there's no control how much is in them," says Silva.
In the last two years, he says, Steamboat Springs police have responded to 15 fentanyl overdoses and 7 people have died.
"Pretty high number for a small town."
It comes as the Steamboat Springs Police Department experiences a staffing crisis. While Steamboat Springs City Council approved a pay increase to help with recruiting, the department is down 8 officers.
Silva says one fentanyl overdose takes hundreds of hours to investigate.
"And because of how bad it is nationwide and in the state, getting federal assistance on a case is really hard."
Still, he says, federal court is the best option.
"There's not in Colorado a law specific to homicide as a result of an overdose."
State lawmakers are looking to change that along with a 2019 law that makes 4 grams or less of fentanyl a misdemeanor, which in Steamboat Springs, Silva says, means a ticket.
"They're selling drugs that could literally kill the next person who takes the drug."
He fears that the next person will be a child in the community, "I think it's only a matter of time before we see something that tragic."
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