RIVERSIDE, California – Inland Empire law enforcement officials today rolled out a public outreach education campaign to address the ongoing fentanyl crisis and the skyrocketing number of fentanyl poisonings.
Anchored by a new public service announcement titled “Death in Disguise” that expands on the DEA-led “One Pill Can Kill” campaign, the new program announced today includes the wide release of the PSA in conjunction with the launch of a widespread engagement program that will target schools and community groups across Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The new campaign was announced at a news conference today by United States Attorney Martin Estrada, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney Simon Umscheid, and Drug Enforcement Administration Los Angeles Division Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner.
“The fentanyl epidemic has targeted our youth, devastating families and scarring communities,” said United States Attorney Estrada. “It is therefore critical that we continue our educational, outreach, and enforcement efforts with our law enforcement partners. We are committed to doing all we can to combat the fentanyl threat and holding accountable those who traffic in this poison.”
“Fentanyl is a deadly drug that is devastating our community,” said District Attorney Hestrin. “Our office continues the urgent work of educating our residents about the dangers of fentanyl and holding those accountable who peddle this poison in Riverside County.”
“At the rates we are seeing, if a fentanyl poisoning hasn’t affected you personally, it soon will,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson. “That means every person in this county and beyond shares a responsibility to fight the opioid crisis – a responsibility in awareness, in prevention, in response, and in holding social media, dealers and distributors accountable.”
“Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is fueling poisonings and drug-caused deaths at historic rates and poses a greater risk to our communities than any other illicit drug in history,” said Special Agent in Charge Bodner. “As we target individuals responsible for importing and distributing fentanyl we are equally focused on educating and increasing awareness about fentanyl so individuals can make better informed decisions. There’s not a community, family, or person that is immune from the dangers of fentanyl, which is why our joint awareness efforts are widespread and boundless.”
As part of this new outreach project, federal officials worked closely with members of the District Attorney’s offices to create age-appropriate presentations for middle and high school students to be made in schools or other community-based settings.
The young people targeted in these presentations will hear from members of law enforcement, prosecutors, health care professionals and victims, who will engage students and their parents with an interactive presentation, including visual aids and Q&A to help students and parents understand to dangers of fentanyl poisoning. The presentations are designed to drive home the crucial points that tiny amounts of fentanyl can be deadly, and it is inherently dangerous to purchase seemingly legitimate “pharmaceutical” drugs on social media platforms.
The partners involved in this project are developing law enforcement trainings for colleges and universities across the Inland Empire. These will include trainings by DEA special agents on the widespread availability of fentanyl on social media sites, the recognition and safe handling of fentanyl, and the proper use of Narcan by health care professionals.
The “Death in Disguise” PSA was developed in partnership with the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at the California State University, Northridge.
This new outreach campaign is an important part of the law enforcement arsenal to address the fentanyl crisis that continues to take lives every day in Southern California. In conjunction with law enforcement’s prosecution and interdiction efforts, the public education component is part of a comprehensive strategy to address the problem and save lives.