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Maricopa County Attorney on track for record fentanyl prosecutions

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(The Center Square) – Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell explained the rise in fentanyl prosecutions on Tuesday, as state leaders make various announcements on National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

The county attorney’s office said in a news release that there was a roughly 20% increase in cases related to deadly opioids from 2022 to 2023, and is anticipating an uptick once again with 2,214 fentanyl cases as of April. In 2023, there was a staggering 7,877 cases of “submittals for prosecution.”

The news release referred to the numbers as “record-setting,” as well as raising further concern about how large numbers of the drug coming in pills are becoming more common.

“As a community, we need to be a united front in the fight against fentanyl. To do that effectively, members of the community need to know what we’re facing together,” Mitchell said in a statement on Tuesday.

The county attorney also specifically warned about accidental overdoses in youth.

“Fentanyl is very cheap, extremely addictive, and it’s tearing families and communities apart,” Mitchell stated. “Teens today are buying pills they don’t know are fake and that contain lethal doses of this poison. If one conversation can save a life, it’s all worth doing. So please, stay informed and spread the word.”

Her message comes as Superintendent Tom Horne is launching a task force to distribute Narcan and find ways to prevent overdoses inside and outside of schools, The Center Square reported on Tuesday. He specifically noted how Arizona’s location as a border state makes the situation more dire.

A UCLA study determined that Maricopa County was one of the hubs of deadly overdoses in teens from 2020 to 2022, and the state’s health department estimates over five deaths each day from opioid overdoses, regardless of age.

In addition, Attorney General Kris Mayes shared the winner of a student Public Service Announcement contest on Tuesday, and the video will be airing on social media and on television statewide.

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