Humboldt County has seen a significant increase in illegal cases of fentanyl distribution, possession and overdose, including an alarming number of deaths from overdose.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and a Scheme II narcotic that is approx. 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is often added to heroin and other drugs to increase their potency and can cause accidental overdose.
As of April 14, 2021, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office has received confirmation of eight fentanyl overdose deaths in the county, with six in March alone. Several overdose death studies remain pending the receipt of toxicological reports, with more fentanyl cases expected.
In addition, Humboldt County Drug Task Force Agents alone in 2021
“What we’re seeing right now are products that contain larger doses of fentanyl, especially in pill form,” said Lieutenant Shawn Sopoaga, chief of the Humboldt County Department of Medicines. “Fentanyl is transported to Humboldt County in a raw form and used as a cutting tool by dealers to produce more product.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a lethal dose of fentanyl consists of two milligrams equal to a few grains of salt. The DEA’s Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program found that 26 percent of illegal fentanyl pills surveyed in 2019 contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl. Counterfeit pills can be difficult to distinguish from legitimate drugs and are often marketed as M30s, Perc30s, Blues or Mexican Oxy.
Fentanyl can also be absorbed through the skin and accidental inhalation of airborne powder may occur. Due to the growing threat of Fentanyl exposure, Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies have been equipped with Narcan, a nasal spray designed to quickly reverse opioid overdose. In California, residents can buy NARCAN® No Prescription Nasal Spray directly from a drugstore, and those locally struggling with addiction are strongly encouraged to carry Narcan in case of overdose.
“One of my biggest concerns is that our teens and young adults are taking pills from these retailers that are laced with fentanyl. The chances of overdose are very high, “said Sheriff William Honsal of Humboldt County. “We work with both our state and federal law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who push fentanyl into our community.”
Anyone with information on drug-related crimes is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at 707-267-9976 or the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.