Dep US Attny addresses fentanyl epidemic's impact in San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Dep US Attny addresses fentanyl epidemic's impact in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, is now at the center of a new overdose epidemic here in the U.S. and the number of deaths involving the painkiller has actually spiked here in San Diego County.

In the first nine months of this year, the number of fentanyl-related deaths here in the county has surpassed forty and is on track to double the number seen last year and quadruple what the county saw in 2014.

"People from San Diego are dying from fentanyl every day," Deputy U.S. Attorney Mark Conover said. "What is scary about fentanyl is the incredible trajectory. The rise in fentanyl users and the sad reality of the rise in people dying from fentanyl. It can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine."

President Donald Trump recently declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.

Earlier this week, while on his diplomatic tour in China, he vowed to work to stop the flow of opioids into the country. President Trump's declaration of a public health emergency gives state governments the ability to shift funds away from other medical issues, like HIV and diabetes, to provide more opioid treatments, but it does not provide any additional funding to deal with the crisis.

Because of its proximity to the border, San Diego is playing an especially crucial role in combating this crisis.

Conover says that most of the fentanyl that surfaces in San Diego has roots in Mexico and is trafficked through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He said that border agents have seized over 500 kilograms of fentanyl, which more than the port has ever seen.

According to Conover, the U.S. Attorney's Office has brought together resources from local and federal agencies to create a special fentanyl working group that will explore ways to decrease demand of the drug and keep it off the streets.

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