According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is estimated that 25% of all drugs on the street are laced with fentanyl. Earlier this month in Castaic a man and woman were arrested after deputies discovered over 7,000 pills resembling Percocet that were mixed with fentanyl.
Seven thousand pills in our valley is terrifying considering the fentanyl awareness slogan is “One Pill Can Kill.”
Law enforcement has its hands full trying to keep dealers from peddling their poison throughout our community, but why isn’t anything being done in Sacramento?
The short answer is Democrats and Republicans agree that something needs to be done. But when it comes to accountability for fentanyl dealers, that’s where the Democrats fail. They fail to act not because they disagree with Republicans, but because they can’t agree with each other.
The most recent example was a bill I coauthored, Senate Bill 44 (Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana), which would have formally notified a person convicted for dealing fentanyl that if they are arrested again for a fentanyl-related offense, and someone has died as a result of their actions, they could be charged with second-degree murder.
It is also known as “Alexandra’s Law” after Alexandra Capelouto, a 20-year-old college student who unknowingly consumed five times the amount of fatal fentanyl just two days before Christmas in 2019.
Sadly, her story is all too familiar for so many families. The odds are you likely have a loved one who has died as a result of fentanyl or are close to someone who has experienced such profound loss.
“Alexandra’s Law” was a very simple measure with 41 coauthors on both sides of the aisle. I went to the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing to voice my strong support for the bill. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins was there in person to testify to her strong support of the bill and share graphic stories of the toll fentanyl is taking on her county.
It essentially mirrored what we already do for those convicted of a DUI. Yet even this most basic measure, introduced by a Democrat, was killed.
The same situation is happening over in the Assembly, where a bill that would have increased penalties and jail time for fentanyl dealers was denied a hearing.
In California in 2021, 224 teens ages 15-19 died from fentanyl-related overdoses. To not to even consider an ounce of accountability is beyond me.
The addition of fentanyl to our worst-in-the-nation homelessness problem and rising crime rates is akin to spraying lighter fluid on a fire.
The Walking Dead-like scenes we see out of Los Angeles and San Francisco are not unique to big-city settings. Fentanyl is right here, too – in our communities, in our schools, in our homes – and it is thriving.
It is now the leading cause of death among adults 18-45 in the United States. It is 50 times more powerful than heroin, 100 times more powerful than morphine, and all it takes is a 0.02-milligram speck to constitute a fatal dose.
That speck is so tiny you could fit it on the tip of a pencil.
In California in 2021, there were nearly 6,000 fentanyl-related deaths. Here at home, in Santa Clarita more than 30 people lost their lives to fentanyl-related overdoses in 2022, and one horrific day in December paramedics responded to two overdose incidents involving five people.
Taking advantage of the opioid epidemic, fentanyl manufacturers and dealers most commonly lace the synthetic drug into pills that resemble legitimate prescriptions. And smartphones enable anyone, including teens, to get their hands on deadly counterfeit pills with a simple swipe of a finger.
In many instances, teens think they are buying Percocet or Adderall, but do not know that the pill they just swallowed has that deadly speck of fentanyl inside it. While kids seeking out pills online is already worthy of a serious discussion at home, it is abundantly clear that the fentanyl crisis is a different beast.
It is pure poison.
We cannot continue to enable and embolden criminals who have zero regard for human life. If we want to stop more senseless deaths, the very least the Legislature should do is hold dealers responsible for their deadly actions.
Sen. Scott Wilk represents the 21st Senate District, which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.