by Dennis Dalman
A 2-year-old child is one of an increasing number of those who have overdosed on fentanyl in the St. Cloud area, according to a Dec. 29 news release and advisory alert by St. Cloud Police Chief Jeff Oxton.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller.
The child’s death was apparently “accidental,” but it is the subject of an ongoing investigation. The police department did not release further information about that child or when the death occurred.
Oxton noted that last year, as of Dec. 29, there were 16 deaths caused by fentanyl overdoses in St. Cloud and the surrounding area, including the child’s death. The ages of the other people who overdosed were 22-66. In 2022, there were three additional overdose deaths caused by other illegal drugs in addition to the 16 fentanyl-caused deaths.
In 2018 and 2019, there were two known overdose deaths in the St. Cloud area. In 2020, those fatalities increased to eight, in 2021 to 14, and then, last year, to 19.
The increase in overdoses is cause for alarm, Oxton said, because it reflects a nationwide scourge of death caused by fentanyl and other kinds of dangerous drugs – mostly illegally manufactured and distributed drugs. What makes fentanyl even more dangerous is that it, like other opioids, can be a highly addictive drug, causing its users to take even more risky behavior with their lives and/or the lives of others.
“Synthetic Opioid Fentanyl continues to be a significant issue across our country and our state,” the press release stated. “Central Minnesota and the City of St. Cloud have also noted the effects from this dangerous drug.”
The police alert advises the following: that parents and guardians be very vigilant and to educate their teens and young adults about the dangers associated with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. It is a highly potent drug. It is also added to other drugs by those who make and distribute it, and that combination can cause lethal toxicity. Some fentanyl users also take it while ingesting other drugs, adding to the danger of overdose deaths. In some cases, victims do not know a drug they ingest has high-potency fentanyl mixed into it.
What’s even more worrisome is drug-traffickers who sell fentanyl (pills and powder) and those who buy them have no idea just how potent (deadly) a particular pill or batch of powder is. That can amount to a virtual death sentence by overdose.
The Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force noted in the St. Cloud area fentanyl most often comes via drug traffickers in the form of pills dubbed “Perc 30s,” so-called because there is the number 30 inscribed on one side of the small pill, most often blue-colored. Fentanyl, like those pills, is also sold illegally in the form of powder that can be smoked. Some fentanyl users crush the pills into a powder to be smoked.
Chief Oxton said if anyone happens to come across such pills or powder, they should not so much as touch the substances. Instead, they should immediately call 911 or the St. Cloud Police Department at 320-251-1200.
The media news release states this: “The St. Cloud Police Department and the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force have been and will continue to aggressively work to identify and arrest those possessing and selling fentanyl.”
According to the national Centers for Disease Control, there were nearly 110,000 deaths nationwide by overdoses in 2022, with at least 70,000 of those deaths caused by synthetic opioid fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is killing Americans at an unprecedented rate,” said federal Drug Education Administration Administrator Anne Milgram. “Drug traffickers are driving addiction and increasing their profits by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl, until it’s too late.”