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Police in Saskatoon have arrested three people after two overdose deaths on the weekend from cocaine allegedly laced with fentanyl.

Police took the unusual step of releasing the street name and phone number of an alleged drug dealer in the hope of preventing further casualties.

Saskatoon police Supt. Dave Haye said it’s the first time he’s aware of the force releasing that type of information.

“We believe that the public safety interests are of the greater need here and that’s why we released that information,” Haye said Monday at a news conference.

Three men, all from out of province, were in custody and facing a series of drug and weapons charges. Haye said manslaughter charges are also being considered.

Police said they responded to at least six suspected overdoses on Saturday. A man and a woman died while another person is in a coma.

They issued a public safety advisory warning that cocaine purchased from an alleged dealer using the name “Lil Joe” or “Joe Bro” with the cellphone number 306-881-7300 could be laced with a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

Police now have the cellphone connected to that number.

The advisory also urged anyone who had purchased the drugs to bring them to a police station for safe disposal. Police said anyone doing so would not face possession charges.

“This is brand new to us,” Haye said. “We believe we’re following the spirit of the federal Good Samaritan act where the act itself provides some safety from charging people who report an overdose.

“We’re more interested in public safety at this point. The people who are addicted to drugs, they need treatment and they don’t need charges.”

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