Dangerous, powerful drug killing unsuspecting citizens

(WSVN) - There is a new drug on the streets killing unsuspecting victims. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin, and 100 times stronger than morphine. The number of victims it’s leaving behind in South Florida is alarming. Jeff Lennox is here with this 7News investigation.

Theresa Lawton, son died of fentanyl overdose: “Found his body on the 19th of February.”

There is a silent killer lurking out there, and anyone is a target…

Theresa Lawton: “Innocent lives are being destroyed because of it.”

The silent killer’s name is fentanyl.

An FDA approved drug, it’s used to treat people with cancer. But it’s making its way into heroin sold on the streets of South Florida…

Theresa Lawton: “Carl was a very kind loving person. Everyone who knew him loved him, no matter where we were.”

Theresa Lawton’s 28-year-old son Carl was found slumped over in his car this past February, at a gas station in Miami-Dade County.

The toxicology report showed he overdosed on a mixture of fentanyl and heroin.

Theresa Lawton: “He had a life, he loved life. He loved his girlfriend. He loved his family, and his friends, and he never looked at anyone in a bad way.”

Lawton doesn’t believe her son knew he was given fentanyl.

Theresa Lawton: “I’m looking for whoever gave this to my son, because my son wasn’t stupid.”

Carl’s death is part of an emerging epidemic not only here in South Florida, but nationwide.

Captain Gregory May, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue: “It’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, 30 to 50 more times than heroin, and very small levels can be fatal.”

Fort Lauderdale Fire Captain Gregory May says they started tracking fentanyl overdoses last year.

Captain Gregory May: “We’re tracking hot spots: the downtown district, the bar scenes, the night clubs, the younger adults.”

Since January, the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office has linked fentanyl to 85 deaths. There have been 66 in Miami-Dade County.

Florida Atlantic University Professor Dr. John Newcomer says those numbers don’t tell the whole truth.

Dr. John Newcomer, Florida Atlantic University: “You won’t know whether a death is related to fentanyl, unless they have reason to suspect and they run that specific test. You won’t know that was a fentanyl death.”

Theresa says some days, the pain of losing her son is unbearable and reminds parents to never give up on their kids…

Theresa Lawton: “You have to go after and talk with your children and watch who they hang out with, and don’t be afraid no matter how old they are.”

To read the full CDC report on fentanyl and the opioid epidemic, visit their website at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm

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