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King County health officials warn of increase in fentanyl overdoses

In 2015, fentanyl related deaths only made up 1% of all overdoses in the county, compared to 40% in 2020, experts said.

SEATTLE — With just two months left in the year, King County is seeing a record-breaking number of fentanyl overdoses. 

King County Public Health said there were 116 fentanyl overdoses in 2019 but as of October, there’s been 135 fentanyl overdoses in 2020, surpassing all of last year. 

Fentanyl overdoses are disproportionately affecting young people who think they’re purchasing real prescription pills off the street, but end up getting counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, experts said. 

In 2015, fentanyl related deaths only made up 1% of all overdoses in the county, compared to 40% in 2020, experts said. 

Just this week, on Tuesday, Seattle police said officers from the department's Community Response Group (CRG) seized fentanyl and other drugs during a traffic stop in SODO.

Officers on patrol near 3rd Avenue and South Stacy Street pulled over a BMW for expired registration and when they contacted the driver they noticed he appeared to be hiding drug paraphernalia on his console, police said. 

Police also saw small baggies and a scale inside the vehicle. Officers released the man from the scene but seized the vehicle and got a warrant to search it the following day.

Officers found alprazolam, fentanyl, heroin, and a loaded handgun magazine in the car, police said.

Credit: SPD
Seattle police found alprazolam, fentanyl methamphetamine, heroin, and a loaded handgun magazine in the car.

That case remains under investigation.

Earlier this month, a 20-year-old King County man died from an accidental overdose after taking what he thought was a prescription pill but it turned out to be laced with fentanyl, according to his family who spoke with KING 5.