Welcome to Crime and Justice News

Search

Deadly Drug Overdoses by Fentanyl Reach Rural Florida County

A small, largely rural county west of Florida’s capital experienced an unheard-of spike in deadly drug overdoses believed to be caused by fentanyl over the July 4 weekend, with nine people dying in the latest sign that a national crisis is becoming even more far-reaching, the Associated Press reports. In all of 2021, Gadsden County had just 10 overdoses, Sheriff Morris Young said. He couldn’t recall any being fatal. The state had even rejected a grant application to treat fentanyl overdoses because the county of about 43,700 people couldn’t definitively identify any cases involving the powerful synthetic opioid. Then last Friday, calls to emergency services began flooding in. In addition to the nine deaths over the holiday weekend, another nine people were treated for suspected fentanyl overdoses. Gadsden County is largely known for its vegetable and livestock farms, historic Southern buildings and antique shops.


Many families have known each other for generations. County Commission Chairman Ron Green said among the families of victims he knew were the children of a woman in her 60s who died over the weekend. “They didn’t even realize their mother was using again,” Green said. “This brought an alarming notice to them. Unfortunately, it’s too late.” While the victims were 34 or older, Green worries younger people could be endangered, “if we can’t hurry up and get it off the streets.” Fentanyl can be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, and dealers lace it in with other illegal drugs to boost their addictiveness. Law enforcement officials say most people affected don’t know it’s in the illegal drugs they’re buying — in amounts that otherwise wouldn’t necessarily be deadly. The problem has become so acute that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning three months ago about what it called “mass-overdose events.” It cited dozens of deaths in more than a half-dozen clusters in recent months in locations ranging from the small town of Cortez, Colorado, with fewer than 9,000 residents, to major cities such as Washington, D.C.