After teen deaths from fentanyl, LAPD chief says drug has become 'number one threat to the country'

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ByRob Hayes via KABC logo
Wednesday, September 21, 2022 12:31AM
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LAPD Chief Michel Moore called fentanyl the "number one threat to the country." He added that LAPD continues to seize tens of thousands of pills and pounds of fentanyl.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When 15-year-old Melanie Ramos died last week at a Hollywood high school after taking a cheap, knock-off pill laced with fentanyl, her death shocked the community and spurred days worth of headlines.

But what most people may not realize is that Melanie's death is far from rare.

"The number one threat to the country is fentanyl," said Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore. "The ready supply of this is resulting in overdoses and deaths."

Moore addressed the police commission Tuesday morning, delivering some somber statistics.

READ MORE | 2 teen boys arrested after girl, 15, fatally overdoses at high school campus in Hollywood, LAPD says

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is a 100 times stronger than morphine.

And Moore says these days a large portion of drugs being sold in L.A. are laced with the potentially deadly drug.

"The department continues to seize tens of thousands of pills and pounds and pounds of fentanyl," Moore said.

The DEA considers just two milligrams of fentanyl to be a lethal dose. And just one pound of the drug contains 454,000 milligrams.

Ramos died in a restroom at Bernstein High School in Hollywood, and investigators say she and a friend bought the drug on the school's campus.

In just the past week, Moore says five other youths overdosed on fentanyl-laced drugs in the area around Bernstein High, but survived.

READ ALSO | LA DEA official says teen's overdose death highlights dangers of fentanyl-laced pills among youth

Moore says the key is to bust those high up in the drug supply chain of command, and not focus only on the 15-year-old boy who was arrested and charged with manslaughter for selling the drug that killed Ramos.

"Those people are simply pawns that are being used by drug trade organizations to purvey this death for simple greed of money," Moore said.

An LAPD and DEA task force is now working to crack the ring responsible for this latest surge in fentanyl overdoses.