Deadly fentanyl batch results in 10 overdoses, killing 3 in Southwest

D.C. firefighters responded to 10 overdoses on Friday in Southwest. 

Five people are in the hospital, two refused treatment, and three people have died. 

Fox 5’s Sierra Fox spoke with Special Agent Jarod Forget with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who says the rising numbers are alarming.

"It’s something we have never seen before in drug trafficking, it’s killing a lot of people and what we’re seeing is during COVID-19, a lot of people are in their homes, kids [who] were in school, aren’t in school, so we see more youth online, on the computer," Forget said. "A lot more people are buying these drugs in the form of fentanyl – the powder itself – online, on websites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat."

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Forget says statistics show that in 2020, there were over 400 deadly drug overdoses in the nation’s capital and a majority were from fentanyl. In 2021, those numbers will be even higher, he believes. 

D.C. Fire and EMS said that on Friday, around 11:15 a.m., they started responding to a series of overdoses.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee identified two victims as 72-year-old Gloria Hamilton and 69-year-old Lawrence Lucas. Officials are waiting to notify the family of an adult woman who lost her life before releasing her name and age. 

Hamilton was discovered on O Street in Southwest. Lucas was on Martin Luther King Avenue in Southeast and a third person was found unresponsive on P Street in Southwest.

DC addresses overdoses after several suspected fentanyl-related deaths

D.C. Councilman Charles Allen, who represents Ward 6, says the number of neighbors and residents lost due to the opioid crisis is a mass casualty.

"I don’t think we tell the story very often though because who it is that we’re losing, and I think we as a city need to treat this seriously, realize it as the epidemic and a crisis that it is," Allen said. "In D.C. our opioid epidemic and crisis and who it’s killing is predominately older black men. The crisis you hear about in the rest of the country is suburban and younger white people. We’re losing a large number of older, black men predominately to fentanyl."

At this time, police are still investigating where this deadly batch of fentanyl came from and who is responsible for releasing what they are calling "lethal poison" into the community.

During a press conference, a local pastor named Ruth Hamilton said she’s concerned about the overdoses on Half Street in Southeast and obvious drug deals happening in her neighborhood. She questioned officials about their response to the issue. 

Barbara Bazron, the director of the Dept. of Behavioral Health replied: "In an instance in which there is a hot spot and there have been a number of deaths in that area, we immediately deploy there – our community response team as well as our outreach teams – to not only distribute naloxone but also to provide the support people need because of the trauma associated with that." 

"The area that you’re speaking of near Half Street or on Half Street is certainly an area that the First District has focused on," Chief Contee responded. "In my time here as the First District Commander – I certainly focused on it and I know the Commander that followed me and the current Commander that’s in that position as well, so we’ll continue to enforce unlawful or illegal behavior."

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