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Fentanyl Summit Addresses the Impact of the Drug in Imperial County

-Editorial

Fentanyl, the primary menace in our binational region, demands accessible information to protect young people and citizens from falling prey to its lethal effects.

The Consulate of Mexico in Calexico, in collaboration with Imperial Valley College and Imperial County authorities, organized a Fentanyl Awareness Summit aimed at enlightening the community about the perils of this drug and the public policies in place to combat it in Mexico and the United States.

Eminent figures such as Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD, Senator Steve Padilla, District Attorney George Marquez, County Sheriff Fred Miramontes, Brawley Police Chief, and health and mental health experts actively participated in the summit.

According to data from the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department, opioids claimed nearly 69,000 lives in the United States in 2020, with synthetic opioids accounting for 82% of those fatalities.

Imperial County Behavioral Health Services, in collaboration with the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and local agencies, has successfully established systems and resources to educate partner agencies and the community, fostering awareness and reducing stigma associated with substance use. Their goal is to provide the community with access to a comprehensive system of service delivery.

In 2020, the cities of Brawley, Calipatria, Westmorland, and Niland reported the highest number of psychostimulant overdose deaths.

Among the 328 US ports of entry, San Diego and Imperial County have witnessed the highest number of fentanyl seizures, making Imperial County a prominent hotspot for fentanyl trafficking in the US. Between 2019 and 2022, fentanyl seizures in Imperial County surged by a staggering 272%.

Initially, drug trafficking organizations smuggled relatively small quantities of fentanyl alongside larger loads of other narcotics like methamphetamine and cocaine.

In 2020, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Division recorded 86 overdose deaths, with 33 attributed to fentanyl, accounting for 38% of all drug overdose deaths that year.

In 2021, the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Imperial County decreased by 17, and the trend continued in 2022 with a further decline, recording 13 deaths.

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