There are more opioid-related drug deaths and crime in San Diego now than ever before, the District Attorney warned Friday.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 were up nearly 7 percent from 2016. Preliminary data shows more than 72,000 Americans died last year from overdoses.
San Diego County District Attorney, Summer Stephan said it is no different locally, as opioid overdoses and drug-related crimes continue to spike.
“Here in San Diego this year for the first time, the overdose deaths from opioids has surpassed every kind of drug, including methamphetamine,” said Stephan. “We’ve had over 250 overdose deaths related to opioids.”
The DA said the spike this year is coming from an increase in consumption and addiction to legally prescribed painkillers. Stephan said it only takes five days to get addicted to pills like Vicodin and Oxycontin.
Robberies of convenience stores that sell pharmaceutical products in San Diego, like CVS, have doubled in the last year, Stephan added.
She said her office is working around the clock to try to keep drugs from illegally being brought over the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Cartels will bring drugs here through tunnels, drones, by strapping them onto children who walk across the border,” said Stephan.
“Lately the biggest fad has been for cartels to use young kids in high school and sometimes junior high, lacing them with fentanyl,” said Stephan. “If the protective barrier breaks it’s going to kill these kids.”
Stephan said the county has a prescription drug task force that works with the U.S. Attorney to conduct targetted operations that break down the methods the cartels are using to transport drugs.
She adds that parents should pay attention. If kids show up with money or items of wealth they shouldn't have, such as new shoes or technology, ask questions. It is also important to safely discard any pain medications you no longer use.