Sharp rise in Fentanyl related deaths in the Valley

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Fentanyl deaths on a recent sharp rise in the Valley. On Wednesday, multiple law enforcement agencies came together to raise awareness about the danger of pills laced with Fentanyl.

In 2019, Fresno County had 14 Fentanyl-related deaths, that number continues to rise.

“The Mexican drug cartels have found yet another way to sell their poison in the United States and it takes the form of Fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Mcgregor W. Scott.

He said there’s a public health crisis in the Valley.

Pills that may look like Percocet, Xanax, Oxycodone, even cocaine or heroin, in fact are man-made pills laced with Fentanyl.

“Fentanyl a synthetic opioid is 50 times more potent than heroin and a 100 times more potent than morphine,” said Tatum King, HSI special agent in charge.This potent, lethal, drug is what killed musician Prince and most recently Major Legaue baseball player for the Angels, Tyler Skaggs.

“The problem is when you take one of these pills you’re playing Russian Roulette with your life, because you have no clue how much Fentanyl, again fake, cheap, poison that you’re putting into your mouth, that’s in each one of these pills,” said Daniel Comeaux, DEA special agent in charge.

Clovis native, Tony Hoffman knows all too well about addiction. At just 18, he found himself addicted to prescription pills and heroin. After committing a home invasion, he went to prison for two years. He has since turned his life around and now speaks all over the world dedicated to educating people about his past and the danger of opioids.

“What’s happening here now with the high volume of overdoses and deaths that are occurring is we’re kind of finally seeing what the reality is of fentanyl, how lethal it is,” said Hoffman, a national speaker on mental health and addiction.

Fresno County District Attorney, Lisa Smittcamp, says far too often those taking the pills have no idea they could be making a fatal mistake.

“Everyone of those pills is the potential lethal dose for the person who may be very unsuspecting that they’re taking something so serious,” she said.

This past April, 20-year-old Frankie DePrima died after taking what he thought were Xanax pills, it was actually Fentanyl.

Madera County DA, Sally Moreno, pleading for parents to talk to their children.

“Mom to mom, parent to parent, please intervene and talk to your children,” she said. 

For those looking for help, P.A.I.N. provides services, click here for their website. You can also contact them at 559-579-1551 or call Flindt Andersen directly at 559-978-9239.

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