U.S. Attorney’s Office Recognizes Opioid Awareness Month; Highlights Enforcement and Outreach Efforts | USAO-SDCA
U.S. Assistant Attorneys Larry Casper, Dylan Aste, and Cindy Cipriani (619) 546-9608
PRESS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 31, 2021
SAN DIEGO – On International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual commemoration aimed at raising awareness about overdose prevention and reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths, acting US Attorney Randy Grossman again warned the San Diego community of the severe fentanyl crisis and advocated a “society as a whole” approach to tackling overdoses.
“We are losing far too many lives to fentanyl and the ages of the victims are getting younger, making the tragedy worse,” Grossman said. “Just last weekend, a teenage boy from San Diego died of a suspected fentanyl overdose from a counterfeit pill. The public needs to realize that there is no such thing as a “safe” street drug – only one pill can kill. “
Grossman noted that the U.S. Attorney General and San Diego County’s District Attorney’s Office are working closely with the coroner’s district court and law enforcement partners to identify the origins of deadly drugs and initiate legal proceedings against suppliers in overdose cases. Under federal law, sellers and suppliers of drugs that result in death or serious bodily harm face a harsh sentence – a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. The US Attorney’s Office has so far indicted about 30 defendants in cases of fentanyl overdose deaths.
Grossman stressed that “federal prosecutors are doing everything in their power to hold fentanyl dealers accountable. Tomorrow, Kyle Anthony Shephard will be convicted for delivering the fentanyl that caused the fatal overdose of a 25-year-old US marine. On Friday, August 27, a federal jury passed a verdict – the first in a mandatory minimum case involving counterfeit pills – leading to a 20-year prison sentence for Jahvaris Lamoun Springfield, who sold a 26-year-old veteran fentanyl pills, that led to his death.
“These overdose charges have three goals: to prevent the proliferation of illicit drugs, send a clear message that those who face deadly poison will experience dire consequences, and those who face devastating personal losses, a degree of closure and To offer justice, ”said Grossman.
“Experts report that fentanyl is 50-100 times stronger than morphine and so dangerous that even a very small amount can be fatal in its purest form.” San Diego County officials report that the number of deaths from fentanyl overdoses during the pandemic has widened and is projected to reach 700 this year, a staggering increase from 2019 when 152 people died from fentanyl overdoses; in 2020 the number more than tripled to 461 in 2019.
Grossman stressed that in the face of this crisis, “law enforcement is only part of the solution. We need a societal approach. As a community, we must consider how we can all help promote public understanding that addiction is a disease that requires treatment, resources and positive collective action. “
In addition to prosecuting opioid traffickers and smugglers, the US public prosecutor’s office is raising awareness of harm reduction and prevention measures through opioid coordinators Larry Casper and Dylan Aste and outreach director Cindy Cipriani, who leads the San Diego task on prescription drug abuse. and awareness raising power. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also coordinates a quarterly fentanyl working group that brings together more than 100 law enforcement officers to share trends and best practices in combating the fentanyl scourge in the district.
Finally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is co-sponsoring a biannual summit meeting hundreds of executives to focus on sharing information, reducing stigma, facilitating treatment, and implementing innovative evidence-based harm reduction prevention strategies. This year’s Western States Virtual Opioid / Stimulant Summit, scheduled for November 4-5, 2021, will bring multiple disciplines together to address every aspect of the opioid crisis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, Executive Director, Nora Vokow, MD, and ONDCP Acting Director, Regina LaBelle, will be among the speakers along with dozens of leaders in the fields of prevention, public health, treatment and law enforcement.
Grossman urged those struggling with substance use disorders and their family members to speak to a doctor or pharmacist about naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose.
To learn how to help a person with overdose, including giving naloxone, please read:
For treatment information, see the resources on the PDATF treatment website: