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Mecklenburg County overdose deaths jump 20% as fentanyl crisis grows


Overdose-related deaths have jumped 20% in Mecklenburg County so far in 2023, with 137 this year compared to 114 at this time in 2022, officials said Monday.

And the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s VICE Unit has seized 30 kilograms of suspected fentanyl and nearly 84,000 pills this year.

At a news conference in west Charlotte, CMPD Major Luke Sell warned people that this drug is not in plain sight and that other drugs are being adulterated with fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is being disguised and sold to our teens and young users as pills for anxiety or to help concentrate and study, specifically Xanax, Percocet and Adderall,” Sell said. “These users have no idea that their pills were mixed with fentanyl. You can't see, smell or taste fentanyl. We really want to emphasize that unless it comes from your pharmacy or your doctor, you cannot trust the safety of any pill.”

CMPD has received nearly 1,000 overdose calls for service in 2023.

As the deaths have surged, John Studnek, deputy director of Mecklenburg Emergency Medical Services, said the county will participate in a new program to help track where overdoses occur.

“We're participating in an OD mapping program where we will be providing data to a federal database that helps understand when and where overdoses occur within our community,” Studnek said. “That will afford a community response and ability to understand where narcotics are so that we can go to patients.”

Medic and CMPD will work with the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program to begin using the map in the county. This will aid the county as it will track overdose calls in real-time and provide information to the agencies.

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.