With fentanyl overdose deaths soaring, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón joined with Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer to announce the creation of a working group to address the fentanyl crisis through prevention, education and enforcement.

“I’m proud to announce that we are leading a multifaceted and collaborative effort to save lives,” District Attorney Gascón said. “The proliferation of fentanyl-related deaths poses one of the gravest challenges of our times. We are bringing together the county’s public health experts, education leaders, community advocates and law enforcement professionals to support and utilize evidence-based and effective approaches to stopping the toll fentanyl is taking.”

“This multifaceted approach is necessary because if the failed ‘War on Drugs’ of the ’90s has taught us one thing, it is that we cannot incarcerate our way out of a public health issue. Enforcement is not enough. Saving lives is the priority when addressing substance abuse and illicit drug use, as only the living have the opportunity to recover. This is a communitywide problem and will take collaboration among all of us to stem the tide of harm that is plaguing our neighborhoods.”

The seriousness of this crisis was highlighted by the release today of the Department of Public Health’s report on fentanyl deaths in Los Angeles County, which reports that accidental fentanyl overdose deaths ballooned 1,208% from 109 in 2016 to 1,504 in 2021.

The report also found that fentanyl and methamphetamine were the most common drug types listed as a cause of death in accidental drug overdose deaths in the county.

“First, let me offer my deepest condolences and wishes of peace to the many families who have lost a loved one from fentanyl poisoning,” Dr. Ferrer said. “As our data indicates, the tragedies resulting from fentanyl are indiscriminately impacting all populations regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Fentanyl’s reach is unfortunately broad, calling for a similarly broad approach to address the crisis. I am grateful for this opportunity to work in collaboration with people from many different sectors to address this important public health issue.”

Joining LADA and the Department of Public Health in the working group are the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles School Police Department, the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Drug Policy Alliance and school districts throughout the county.

The working group will collaborate to accomplish prevention, education and enforcement goals.

Submitted by the Media Relations Division