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Police said at least seven teenagers have overdosed in the past month after taking pills that probably contained fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. The drug is frequently mixed into illicit pills made to look like prescription painkillers or other medicines.
String of fentanyl-related overdose deaths lead to action in LA schools
The most recent overdose occurred Saturday, and police are investigating whether those pills were related to the Sept. 13 fatal overdose of Melanie Ramos in a restroom at Bernstein High School in Hollywood. The school was open that night for soccer and volleyball games, authorities said.
She and a classmate bought a pill containing fentanyl from another youth, believing it was the prescription painkiller Percocet, then took the drug on campus and lost consciousness, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told the city Police Commission on Tuesday.
Earlier that day, paramedics responded to separate calls reporting possible overdoses of two teens in the area of Lexington Park, less than a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) from Bernstein High and a cluster of other schools. The teens are believed to have been students at the schools.
Police last week arrested two boys, ages 15 and 16, in connection with Ramos’ death and other drug sales in the area. The younger boy was held on suspicion of manslaughter, police said.
However, Moore said the teens were “simply pawns that are being used by adults and by drug trade organizations,” and authorities were trying to find the supplier.