Law Enforcement Continues Vigorous Response to the Fentanyl Epidemic
On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, National Fentanyl Awareness Day, law enforcement officials announced a dozen new federal cases targeting fentanyl dealers who, except for one case, allegedly sold fentanyl and fake pills containing fentanyl that directly resulted in the death of at least one victim.
The announcement was made at a news conference in which federal authorities, joined by local law enforcement leaders, discussed their ongoing effort to combat the proliferation of fentanyl. This potent synthetic opioid is found in many illicit drugs and is killing approximately 70,000 Americans every year.
“The two main drivers causing fentanyl-related deaths in our community and throughout the nation are accessibility and deception,” said DEA Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner. “Social Media platforms have made fentanyl widely available to anyone with a smartphone and made every neighborhood an open-air drug market. The deceptive marketing tactics used by the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels have created a vast pool of victims who unknowingly ingested fentanyl and did not choose to be harmed or die. Through the DEA Overdose Justice Task Force, we continue to send a strong message to individuals who engage in drug trafficking resulting in death or great bodily injury that selling even one fentanyl pill will have significant consequences in the federal criminal justice system.”
On July 1, 2022, the Sheriff’s Department created the Overdose Response Task Force. The team is comprised of highly trained investigators from the Narcotics Bureau, Major Crimes Bureau, Special Victims Bureau, and Operation Safe Streets Bureau. This team works closely with the Drug Enforcement Agencies and the United States Attorney’s Office.
When a suspected overdose call is received, investigators immediately respond to the scene and process the scene the same way a homicide scene would. These investigations aim to identify the seller(s) of the controlled substance and determine if they are criminally culpable in the death.
Sheriff Robert Luna sent a strong message to those distributing the illicit drug: “If you are distributing this poison, our goal is to charge you with murder when there is an overdose out there. Plain and simple, you’re distributing this poison, you’re going to go to prison for a long time for committing murder.”
The best way to help combat the fentanyl drug problem is through awareness and education. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department urges everyone to talk to loved ones about the dangers of drugs.
People are also encouraged to report any activity that appears to be suspicious or criminal in nature. Information can be provided anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org/.