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Maricopa County Attorney’s Office addresses fentanyl crisis during forum

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On Monday, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office held a forum on how to combat the fentanyl epidemic.

Expert panelists at a forum in Scottsdale said the fentanyl crisis is a teenage crisis. Things like NARCAN can save people from fentanyl overdoses, but the best way for families to protect their children is to provide information.

Officials say fentanyl deaths in Maricopa County have increased 5,000% over the past decade.

“You no longer have to go to unsafe parts of town to find a dealer because you can order online. Dealers are selling on social media,” said Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell.

In the past two years, the DEA has seized more than half of the country's illegal fentanyl in Arizona. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has seen a dramatic increase in the number of fentanyl cases.

“What we're seeing is a lot of cartel members are using people here to get their hands on poison and bring it back,” Mitchell said.

“We're really worried because we're seeing more and more cases of this disease,” said Marybeth Evans, Chandler's nurse and grandmother.

Organizers of the forum held at Notre Dame Prep said educating children, parents and teachers is essential. The drug is commonly found in counterfeit pills as well as powders and e-cigarettes.

Fentanyl is more powerful than heroin or morphine.

Cole Nochamson, prevention expert at notMYkid, said: “Drugs have been used by young people in part because of peer pressure, but most importantly, in quotes, to help with mental health. It was as a tool.”

Officials said overdose victims are also all too common, with an average of more than three people dying each day from fentanyl in Maricopa County.

While law enforcement is focused on combating human trafficking, it is up to parents to teach their children that one pill can kill them.

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