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Recent fentanyl overdoses in Gadsden County are alarming state and local officials

 Gadsden Sheriff Morris Young and First Lady Casey DeSantis discuss recent Fentanyl overdoses in Gadsden
Governor's Press Office
Gadsden Sheriff Morris Young and First Lady Casey DeSantis discuss recent Fentanyl overdoses in Gadsden

Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young who says "fentanyl wasn't in our vocabulary," prior to last weekend.

Some 19 people recently overdosed on fentanyl recently in Gadsden County. Six people are confirmed to have died from the drug while it’s suspected to have played a role in another three deaths.

The overdoses occurred during a recent four-day period starting Friday evening — a situation that alarmed Gadsden Sheriff Morris Young who says "fentanyl wasn't in our vocabulary," prior to last weekend.

“To have that number [of overdoses] in such a short span, we were afraid we’d wake up in a week’s time and have 30, 40, 50 people dead. That’s a lot of people for Gadsden County. We only have 46,000 people in the county," said Young during a Thursday roundtable featuring Florida's First Lady, Casey DeSantis.

"Too many individuals are losing their lives because of illicit drugs and substance abuse,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“Fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death in the nation for individuals ages 18 to 45. It is primarily being manufactured in China and pouring across our southern border. It is imperative that Floridians know the risks and understand that just two milligrams can be lethal. Stopping drug dealers and helping Floridians overcome the challenges of addiction and preventing overdose deaths is a significant priority for us all.”

She used the roundtable to announce a statewide awareness campaign about the dangers of the drug, which was originally prescribed as a pain management medication.

Young says he knows how the drugs entered the county: they came from South of the border to Atlanta, and then traveled back down to North Florida and South Georgia. A new law that goes into effect in October would increase penalties for drug dealers whose products result in a person’s death.

“We’re searching for answers, here," said Young.

" We’re not experts in this. We’re looking at the health and safety for this fentanyl drug, and on the back end, the people responsible…we’re going after them.”
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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.