Police say in a release issued Sunday evening that they responded to at least six suspected overdose incidents on Saturday, and that two of the people involved, a man and a woman, had died.
Haye said the decision to release an alleged drug dealer's street name and phone number before charges were laid was unprecedented for the Saskatoon Police Service.
"They identified the overdoses very quickly and then they started working through the food chain to get to the dealers", Dr. Peter Butt, an addictions expert from the University of Saskatchewan, said in a phone interview Monday. They were taken to a hospital where they are now recovering, police said in the release. There, they found a man and women, aged 27 and 31, also suffering from apparent drug overdoses. Another person was in a coma.
Three men from out of province, who are suspected of selling the drug, are in custody.
Police Superintendent Dave Haye says anyone who comes forward won't be charged as this is a public safety matter.
Noting police in the two cities share information, Popowich said police in Regina weren't issuing a similar specific warning at this time.
"We believe that the public-safety interests are of the greater need here", he said.
Police had initially warned anyone who may have purchased cocaine from a drug dealer named "Lil Joe" or "Joe Bro" or have contacted a dealer with the number 306-881-7300, that the drug they purchased could be laced with fentanyl. The cellphone in question is also in police custody, he said.
"This is brand new to us", he said.
"We're more interested in public safety at this point", he said.
"I'm quite concerned that ... it just disappeared into existing programs, when it was really meant to enhance our response to mental-health challenges, including addictions, in Saskatchewan".
The street value of the drugs is over $64-hundred. Police said anyone doing so would not face possession charges. Haye said Crown prosecutors could still decide to add charges relating to the deaths, such as manslaughter or murder.
Butt encouraged people to take home naloxone kits, which can reverse the effects of an overdose.