The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent a letter to law enforcement agencies across the country last week warning of “mass-overdose events” caused by fentanyl. In that letter, the DEA named an overdose event that happened last month in downtown Austin.
The DEA wrote that 21 people overdosed in Austin on March 4, three of those people died. That mass overdose happened at a homeless shelter near 7th and Sabine after people took crack cocaine and methamphetamine laced with fentanyl, the letter said.
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“Smoked some crack last night,” a man experiencing homelessness told KXAN as he watched his girlfriend being loaded onto a stretcher during that mass-overdose event. “I opened her eyes, pulled on her arms, and she wouldn’t respond.”
While that event included an alarming number of people all overdosing at once, it’s far from the only overdose death tied to fentanyl that Austin has seen recently, parallel to a national trend. The DEA noted that in the United States last year, more people died of fentanyl-related overdoses than gun-related deaths and auto-related deaths combined.
The letter also described several other mass-overdose events that have happened around the country since the start of the year.
- Jan. 28: Ten people overdosed, nine of whom died, within the same city block in Washington, D.C. after taking crack cocaine mixed with fentanyl
- Feb. 5-7: Eight people overdosed and seven of them died at an apartment complex in St. Louis, Missouri after taking crack cocaine mixed with fentanyl
- Feb. 6: Four people overdosed and two died in an apartment complex in Omaha, Nebraska after taking what they they thought was cocaine, but had fentanyl mixed into it
- Feb. 20: Six people overdosed and five died in an apartment in Commerce City, Colorado after taking what they thought was cocaine but was actually pure fentanyl.
- March 3: In Cortez, Colorado three people overdosed and one died in a hotel room after taking what they thought were oxycodone pills but were actually fake pills containing fentanyl
- March 10: Six people overdosed at a rental property in Wilton Manors, Florida after the DEA says they “were exposed to” what they believed was cocaine, but that contained fentanyl