Police are investigating after three children tested positive for fentanyl and two people were found dead from the drug within 24 hours in Riverside.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
On June 4, officers responded to reports of a man found dead in a Canyon Crest home around 10 p.m. Investigators later determined the man had fatally overdosed on fentanyl.
On June 5, the Riverside Fire Department responded to a medical emergency in a grocery store parking lot around 11:18 a.m. Arriving officers found a 3-year-old boy who had stopped breathing.
After transporting the child to a hospital, authorities discovered the child had overdosed on fentanyl. Police officers arrived after the child’s mother had attempted to “interfere with the hospital’s care of her son.”
Investigators learned the child, along with his 2-year-old sister, 5-year-old brother, and his parents were experiencing homelessness and living in their car at the time.
The other two children had also tested positive for fentanyl. Police believe the kids may have been exposed to the drug while inside the car.
The parents were arrested on charges of child endangerment. All three children were placed into the custody of the Riverside County Department of Child Protective Services.
On June 6, police responded to reports of a homeless woman found unresponsive near the area of Citrus Street and Iowa Avenue in the Hunter Park neighborhood.
Authorities performed lifesaving efforts on the woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Police believe she had overdosed on fentanyl as well.
“Within a 24-hour time period in Riverside, we had 3 children exposed to fentanyl and 2 adults die from it,” said Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez. “More sensible legislation is needed to help rid this poison from our neighborhoods, and your local chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys will continue to pressure our lawmakers until we do.”
The number of fentanyl-related deaths in California has skyrocketed over the past six years.
The alarming rise has local leaders and victims’ families speaking out and demanding more legislation, including extra safeguards on social media and stricter penalties for fentanyl dealers.
In September, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that naloxone, also known as Narcan, will be made available at all K-12 schools.
With several fentanyl-related overdoses plaguing L.A. high schools, officials said making Narcan, an overdose-reversing nasal spray, widely available could save many lives. Narcan can reverse overdoses of opioids including street drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone.
To report suspected illegal narcotics activity in Riverside, anonymous tips can be emailed to RPDTips@RiversideCA.gov.