Two friends bring fentanyl test strips to business

KEYC News Now at 10 Recording
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 10:23 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Two friends and business owners have experienced loss due to the rising fentanyl overdose crisis in the Blue Earth County area.

The fentanyl overdose crisis in our community keeps rising, but these friends plan to combat this issue by distributing free fentanyl testing strips at Kato Tobacco.

“Within the past year, we’ve actually lost three of our friends, sadly, to Fentanyl. That also breaks our hearts and breaks our community. We’re losing our people,” said said Mohammed El Haidari, owner of Kato Tobacco, “We would rather have you be safe than for us being sorry and losing one of our community members.”

“Two years ago, I was in Fort Leonard Wood for army training. When I was gone, four of my friends died from fentanyl overdoses, so I thought this would be a good idea, explained Benjamin Brown, owner of Sweet Spot.

So, the men want to help the community in a simple way: Kato Tobacco will hand out free fentanyl testing strips for anyone to take, no matter what substance is being used.

The two men behind this initiative want to spread a message of safety to the community, in honor of the friends they’ve lost to fentanyl overdoses.

“At the end of the day, we’re not gonna be able to stop everybody from what they’re wanting to do or what they want to try. What we can do is provide them something that they can be safe, instead of losing them,” said El Haidari.

“Because people are gonna do drugs. And then, if you can limit to anybody dying at least by one person, then that’s one more person alive. So, I asked him if we could put fentanyl test strips into his store and he could have them in like a lock box. That way, people can access it if they need to,” said Brown.

Kato Tobacco will remodel their displays to showcase the fentanyl test strips near its glass room. The fentanyl testing strips will be at Kato Tobacco sometime within the next week.

“They’re more than welcome to stop in, even if they’re not purchasing anything but they want to be on the safe side. There’ll be 100% no judgments for whoever grabs a strip or multiple, if they would like to,” said El Haidari.