GRAND FORKS -- A Grand Forks man died Monday morning, March 30, seemingly after taking Xanax laced with fentanyl, according to a release from the Grand Forks Police Department.

Law enforcement responded to a call for a medical assist at about 7:15 a.m. at a Grand Forks apartment, according to the release. The man, 24, was found deceased in the residence. A pill recovered at the scene, appearing to be Xanax, contained fentanyl, according to preliminary testing. Investigators learned the victim purchased the pills from an illicit source, and a number of them are still unaccounted for, according to the release.

This is the fourth opioid-related overdose Grand Forks Police have responded to in 2020, and the first fatal opioid overdose, said Lt. Brett Johnson, adding this is the first time he's heard of fentanyl-laced Xanax in the region.

"I don't think our regional drug task force has (seen fentanyl-laced Xanax) either, although I can't speak for them," Johnson said. "At the police department here, this will be the first that we've seen of fentanyl in Xanax, or what appears to be Xanax pills."

Where the pills came from and how many are still in the community is still under investigation, Johnson said. The name of the victim will be released pending family notification.

The Grand Forks Police Department is urging residents who have obtained Xanax pills from anywhere other than a pharmacy or legitimate medical source not to consume them and to take extreme caution in handling the pills, because fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin.

"Fentanyl is extremely dangerous," Johnson said. "It can be absorbed through the skin, and it's fatal in very small doses. It's important not to handle these pills in case they do have fentanyl on the surface of them, we don't want that soaking into somebody's system through their skin."

Anyone with information or questionable Xanax pills is encouraged to contact the Grand Forks Police Department at (701) 780-8000.