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State seizes 4 million pills and 860 pounds of Fentanyl powder since April 2021

Attorney General Rob Bonta said he is expanding the office in charge of enforcement.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thirty years ago, Dr. Beatriz Villarreal ran the juvenile hall in San Diego County. 

“It was very sad to see every year the percentage of Latino kids get in more and more and increasing,” Villarreal said. 

So she quit. 

“I said 'I have to start doing the prevention instead of intervention'," Villareal said, "So, I became an expert in drugs and alcohol gangs and juvenile delinquency because of my job.”

She founded the Mano A Mano Foundation and educates school districts and communities around the county about the dangers of fentanyl. 

On Wednesday, Attorney General Rob Bonta said, the state seized 4 million pills and 860 pounds of fentanyl since April 2021, and plans on using new state money to expand the taskforce in charge of enforcement.

“Is very real, very, very real," Villarreal said about the epidemic. "I have very close families who have kids passed away."

She said the numbers are hard to grasp. 

"It's like 200 people died since last year to now in San Diego County,” she said. 

The United Stated Attorney's Office Southern District of California said San Diego County is a national epicenter for fentanyl trafficking. 

“Potentially Mexico is a source of fentanyl manufacturing and coming into California," Bonta said. 

What enters into San Diego however, does not stay in San Diego. 

“Fentanyl in Sacramento is devastating our community, Lori Miller said. "We've lost hundreds of lives last year, and we're on track to lose up to more than 100 this year."

Lori Miller is a manager at the Sacramento County Department of Health Services. 

“I think that young people are being deceived to death," Miller said. "We have counterfeit pills here in our area that look like the real thing, but they are fentanyl. They are Xanax, Adderall, Oxycontin, these counterfeit pills are designed to look like the real pill."

Fentanyl is extremely deadly. It's 50 times more powerful than heroin, and hundred times more powerful than morphine. 

“This year, it's been big, and it's starting to get younger and younger,” Diamond House Rehab's Jovante Shaw said.

If you make it into the rehab facility Jovante Shaw works at, he says you’re one of the lucky ones. 

“People a lot of times in addiction feel alone and think that they're going through this alone, and they're not," he said. "So many people are dying, and don’t let substance be your way out.”

Everyone said the solution is multifaceted. 

Education: like the story you are reading today. 

Narcan: it’s free in many communities. It can bring someone back to life if they are overdosing. Carry it on you. 

Criminal actions: Bonta said if people fear they will get arrested, they are less likely to commit the crime. 

Bonta said 217 arrests have been made since April of 2021.

WATCH RELATED: County Board of Supervisors to address fentanyl crisis with classroom education for students (October 2022)

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