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San Diego DA: fentanyl-related deaths spike in first half of 2020

Posted at 1:23 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 16:23:53-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — County law enforcement officials say overdose deaths from fentanyl have sharply increased since last year.

The San Diego County District Attorney Office said in the first six months of 2020, there have been 203 fentanyl-related deaths: 119 have been confirmed and 84 are pending confirmation. The victims range in age from 17 to 66 years old.

In all of 2019, there were 152 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the county.

"This alarming uptick demonstrates that dealers continue cutting various illegal drugs with fentanyl and now more than ever it’s a recipe for death," said District Attorney Summer Stephan. "The public needs to be aware of the danger of using any controlled substance even if packaged like a harmless medicinal pill. Higher overdose numbers tell us there’s likely more product on the street in San Diego that may be laced with deadly fentanyl. I’m urging you to share this potentially life-saving message with your loved ones today."

The DA's office says it is prosecuting several cases, including:

  • In January, a 28-year-old smoked a powdery substance given to him by a friend. His mother found him unresponsive in the living room of her home. He was pronounced dead from a fentanyl overdose.
  • In February, a 20-year-old suffering from anxiety, consumed a counterfeit oxycodone pill before going to bed. His roommates found him dead in the morning from a fentanyl overdose.
  • In May, a 19-year-old purchased two Percocets from a friend. He consumed both pills and subsequently died from an overdose. He had fentanyl in his system at the time of his death

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and up to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to officials. Even in doses as little as two milligrams, the drug is lethal for most people.

Treating fentanyl overdoses often requires additional naloxone, the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, to reverse the effects of the drug.

Anyone who is need of help with drug addiction can call the San Diego County Access and Crisis Line 888-724-7240 or 2-1-1 San Diego at any time daily.