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Fentanyl overdose deaths in Los Angeles County up 1,280% since 2016: Report


With the number of fentanyl-related deaths soaring in Los Angeles County, officials at all levels of local government announced a joint effort Tuesday to end the fentanyl crisis.

According to a report released Tuesday by the L.A. County Department of Public Health, accidental fentanyl overdose deaths in the county skyrocketed by 1,280%, from 109 in 2016 to 1,504 in 2021.

“The proliferation into prescription drug lookalikes show that four out of 10 pills that are recovered today by the Los Angeles Police Department, and across this country, contain a deadly and fatal amount of fentanyl,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said at Tuesday’s press conference downtown.

Officials said the pills are cheap to make and easy to slip into the country over borders, causing devastating results.

“Tragically, in L.A. County, about four people die each day from a fentanyl overdose and this devastating loss touches families all across the county,” Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said at the press conference.

Juli Shamash, who lost her 19-year-old son, Tyler, to a fentanyl overdose four years ago, also spoke Tuesday. She had a warning for parents who think it could never happen to their children or loved ones.

“…fentanyl is killing everyone and anyone. It’s killing longtime users. It’s killing kids that are partying on the weekend and it’s killing first-time users,” Shamash said. “This is killing straight A students, track stars, all races, all religions, all socioeconomic and all different education groups.”

In order to combat the fentanyl crisis, L.A. County has created a working group made up of law enforcement, health officials, this district attorney’s office, school leaders, community advocates and parents.

“Each of us comes from a different place, the tools that we bring to the table are different, but when combine all of our tools together, we believe that we will be able to have the greatest impact for the wellbeing of our community,” L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said.

The plan is to provide more education about the risks, prevention through treatment and enforcement by going after the suppliers.

“So, we’re here to commit ourselves to our continued efforts to combat the number one drug problem in America today,” Chief Moore said.

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