SAN DIEGO — Two teenagers are in-custody for the death of a Southern California teen who took pills laced with fentanyl.
A 15-year-old boy was arrested Thursday on suspicion of manslaughter for allegedly selling a fentanyl-laced drug to a pair of Bernstein High School students -- one of whom died -- while a 16-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly peddling drugs to a third student in nearby Lexington Park.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said the 15-year-old suspect allegedly sold the narcotic to two 15-year-old girls on the Bernstein campus, causing both of them to overdose. One of them, identified by the coroner's office as Melanie Ramos, died on the floor of a girls' bathroom on the campus Tuesday night.
The suspect was arrested Thursday morning in the Hollywood area. Moore said he lives with his grandmother, and police who searched their residence found other pills in his possession.
It's just the latest case in a surge in opioid related overdoses across the country including here in San Diego as well.
"Young people are targeted no more than ever before because they are consumers of the future," said Scott Silverman, addiction expert.
Silverman is the founder and CEO of Confidential Recovery Center in San Diego. He says fentanyl has brought the opioid crisis to another level.
"I think of fentanyl as the new weapon of mass destruction, because it's a poison," said Silverman.
In San Diego, the number of accidental overdoses has gone up by 33%, with just over 1,300 deaths within a years’ time. Those numbers prompting county supervisors to declare fentanyl a public health crisis.
The synthetic opioid is often found in counterfeit pills that can look like candy, but officials say that powdered fentanyl has become more common.
The drug is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
"When most people take it, they die from it so it's not a party drug," said Silverman.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, you can call 2-1-1 to be connected to county services.
WATCH RELATED: DEA warns of 'rainbow fentanyl' being used to attract younger people (August 2022)