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Surge in Fatal Fentanyl Overdoses Among Homeless Connected to Methamphetamine

For release on August 13, 2021

CONTACT:

Brian Buckelew
Supervising Deputy District Attorney
Narcotics Unit
(408) 792-2792

Surge in Fatal Fentanyl Overdoses Among Homeless Connected to Methamphetamine

The District Attorney’s Office is deeply concerned that there is an extremely toxic batch of the already potent drug circulating within the county. Over the past three weeks, seven homeless residents in San Jose have suffered fatal overdoses from methamphetamine containing fentanyl.

Driven by the drug overdoses, overall homeless deaths from July 9 through August 9 (36) are already more than double than they were last year during the same period (16).

“COVID is not the only health crisis we are facing in Santa Clara County, and Delta is not the only deadly variant,” DA Jeff Rosen said. “We are committed to work alongside advocates and addicts, police and parents, to stop these overdoses and save lives.”

Fentanyl (in an unknown form) is also the suspected cause of death of a juvenile in Morgan Hill on August 3rd. Powdered fentanyl is the suspected cause of death of a subject in a Santa Clara hotel on July 26th and the suspected cause of death of an inmate at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas on July 22nd. Cocaine containing fentanyl is the suspected cause of death in a double overdose in a Sunnyvale hotel on July 18th and white powder containing fentanyl is the suspected cause of death in Mountain View on May 21st. There were many other fatal fentanyl overdoses during this period attributable to fake pills.

The District Attorney’s Office is also aware of subjects who recently survived fentanyl overdoses after ingesting what they believed to be methamphetamine.

Last week the San Jose Police Department METRO Unit seized over 4 ounces of fentanyl powder from a subject. If pure, that amount of fentanyl could be turned into over 50,000 fatal doses. 

Santa Clara County is closely monitoring the number of recorded fentanyl deaths. In 2019, there were 27 recorded deaths. This rose dramatically in 2020 to 88 recorded deaths. In 2021, to date, there have been 44 confirmed deaths, which is certain to rise [a number currently representing only certified and closed deaths from the Medical Examiner-Coroner].

The District Attorney’s Office is involved in prevention efforts with County partners (e.g., accessing/reporting data, community messaging) and is encouraging everyone to widely share this information to avoid additional overdose fatalities.

To get drug and alcohol treatment, please call Gateway at 1 (800) 488-9919. Free Narcan is also available through the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services.

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Last updated: 8/13/2021 12:32 PM