Jeffrey Johnston, chief medical examiner in Maricopa County, and Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA in Arizona, talk about the 32 fentanyl-related overdoses in the Valley that occurred over the past 18 months, on March 21, 2017.(Photo: Garrett Mitchell/The Republic) More than 30 fatalities in Maricopa County were caused by a deadly substance laced in fake prescription drugs that entered Arizona through Mexico, the U.S.
The 32 confirmed overdose deaths in the county, recorded from May 2015 to February 2017, were reportedly from black-market pills laced with illegally made fentanyl, a powerful opioid said to be 100 times stronger than morphine.
The DEA Heroin Enforcement Action Team attributed the fatalities to counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl that were manufactured and smuggled into the United States by Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.
People don't realize that the doctor is prescribing it for a specific purpose and a specific amount to treat a specific condition but it's just heroin in pill form." Coleman said the DEA was aware of the pills entering through the Arizona-Mexico border but initially thought they were being transported elsewhere.
Jeffrey Johnston, the chief Maricopa County medical examiner, talks March 21, 2017, about the 32 fentanyl-related overdoses in the Valley that occurred over the past 18 months.