Nearly a dozen children, including a 1-year-old, have overdosed on fentanyl in Portland, Oregon since June, according to the Portland Police Bureau. Fentanyl is suspected in all but one of the cases, with half of the incidents resulting in fatalities. Among the deceased are a 1-year-old, 2-year-old, 5-year-old, and two 15-year-olds.
This alarming trend reflects a growing number of children dying from fentanyl overdoses across the United States amidst an escalating opioid crisis. Last year alone, the opioid crisis claimed nearly 80,000 lives, as per federal data. In recent weeks, a 2-year-old in Washington, a 1-year-old in New York City, and a 15-month-old in California also died from suspected fentanyl overdoses.
To address the situation, Portland police have increased patrols to shut down an open-air fentanyl market at an abandoned building downtown. Additionally, Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek has announced plans to tackle the flow of fentanyl into the state. Measures include directing the Oregon State Police to bolster local drug enforcement teams, increase patrol and detective resources, and disrupt the fentanyl supply chain.
The Portland Police Bureau is deeply concerned by the rising number of juvenile overdoses. The incidents since June alone surpass the total number investigated over the past three years combined. The police bureau’s narcotics and organized crime unit is currently investigating all of the cases, which are considered “suspected” overdoses until confirmed by the Medical Examiner’s Office.