(WTNH) – It’s everywhere from big cities to small towns in Connecticut, destroying the lives of wealthy people and those struggling to make ends meet.

That’s the assessment of one of Connecticut’s top law enforcement officials about the fentanyl crisis. News 8 took a look at the drug, who’s taking it and what’s being done to get it off the street.

A drug counselor, Jonathan Steinen, has vivid memories of when he was a drug abuser. He was first addicted to heroin then fentanyl.

“It’s very powerful and for an individual like me, I sought that out,” Steinen said.

Accidental fentanyl overdoses were to blame for an estimated 1,400 fatalities in Connecticut alone last year. That far outpaces any other illegal drug. It’s so lethal because it’s so powerful. It packs a punch of 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

“It’s considerably more powerful,” Steinen said. “A lot of individuals will see that because it’s so powerful.”

Fentanyl is what’s known as a synthetic opioid, which means it’s not grown. It’s instead made with chemicals and then often made into pills. Those often brightly-colored pilled to the untrained eye may look like a medically prescribed pain medication and another perfectly legal drug that many people use on a regular basis.

That’s what’s fueling the crisis. Regular people are looking to get more medication than prescribed by their doctor and then unknowingly get a fentanyl-laced pill from a dealer.

“The pill can look like a pain medication, oxytocin, but it’s not,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen. “It looks just like it, it’s just hard to tell them apart, but if you buy it on the street, there’s no regulatory oversight. There’s no regulatory commission that manages drugs on the street. They look like these pills, but they’re laced with fentanyl.”

“Fentanyl is extremely serious,” said Vanessa Avery, U.S. Attorney. “It’s the most significant drug we are dealing with right now because of its potency.”

Avery says the chemicals needed to make fentanyl is often produced in China and then shipped to Mexico where they’re manufactured and then sold by drug cartels in the United States. The drug is moved by dealers through the mail, the internet, and at times, in the most innocent-looking packaging like candy boxes.

“Sometimes organizations are using regular postal service, the mail, and sometimes they’re using the ‘dark web’ to distribute them in the form of fake pills,” Avery said. “We have to do a long-term investigation. The DEA and the postal service are helping us get to the bottom of what’s going on here and trying to get ahead of it.”

Avery says the U.S. Attorney’s office is actively trying to educate the public about the danger by working with the DEA on a social media initiative called “One Pill Can Kill.”