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Counterfeit Drug Overdoses On The Rise In Monterey County

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SANTA CLARA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
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Counterfeit Oxycodone collected by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office show how similar fake street drugs look to the legimate drugs.

Following the death of a 16-year-old female from a suspected overdose in Seaside last week, police departments across Monterey County are sounding the alarm about the danger of counterfeit street drugs.

Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen says they’re seeing an increase in the number of overdose calls on the Monterey Peninsula. 

“And the concern is that there are counterfeit drugs that are on the streets that look very similar to prescribed medication, but they are laced with fentanyl, which is a deadly, deadly substance,” said Pridgen. 

Opioid overdoses are not a new trend in Monterey County. Police officers in Seaside have been carrying Narcan, the antidote to an opioid overdose, for about three years.  

But what is new is the amount of counterfeit drugs. Pridgen says at a recent Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conference, he learned that 90 percent of the Percocet or Oxycodone on the streets is manufactured in Mexico and is counterfeit. The pills are likely laced with fentanyl.

“And 70 percent of all of the fentanyl that's seized in the United States is seized in California,” said Pridgen. 

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Credit Michelle Loxton
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Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen in his office at the Seaside Police Department. He says they’re seeing an increase in the number of emergency calls about overdoses on the Monterey Peninsula.

Pridgen says only take drugs dispensed by a pharmacist, but if you do buy drugs on the streets, the chief has a warning.

“If possible, sample it before taking the entire amount. Also, do not use drugs that they purchase on the streets by themselves or behind a closed door,” said Pridgen. 

In other words, have someone with you. 

 

Just last weekend, police departments across the Peninsula recorded five cases of what they're investigating as possible counterfeit drug overdoses. 

This comes after Monterey County Health Officials released a warning last month about a recent increase in overdoses and deaths related to the use of counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl.

Local hospitals say they’re working with schools to continue raising awareness about this growing problem.

 

From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.
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