COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — At least seven people died from overdoses in the past 24 hours, the Franklin County coroner says.
The latest deaths continue a disturbing increase in drug-related overdoses. Officials have repeatedly warned of fentanyl being mixed with drugs, often unknown to the end-user.
In September, Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz said there has been a 65% increase in overdose fatalities compared to 2019.
The high number of overdoses has been happening amid a global pandemic.
“Addiction is a disease of despair and there’s a lot more despair lately in terms of unemployment and the isolation,” said Ortiz.
She said what’s startling is that there are more overdose deaths among the Latino and African American communities compared to years past.
“We’re seeing more and more cocaine and methamphetamine mixed with fentanyl and they’re unaware that their stash has fentanyl in it,” said Ortiz.
This weekend’s overdose deaths mirror an earlier 24-hour period last week where another seven people died from drug overdoses.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently shut down one avenue of fentanyl-tainted drugs.
In September, five people from the western United States were indicted in Cincinnati as part of a major international operation to crackdown on online drug sales through the “darknet.”
Authorities said the group sold and shipped drugs including counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.
“This is how counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and meth get into Ohio… It is also an example of how we stop it,” tweeted David DeVillers, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.