Fentanyl deaths impact Rutherford County families

This article appeared in the July 17 print edition of the Rutherford Courier. The text from the article was extracted from a scan of the print article to make it easier to read.

By Scott Carpenter

Bill’s CREEK — Fentanyl is potent opioid drug, considered 50 times more powerful than heroin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 107,00 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2022. and 2/3 were fentanyl related.

Fentanyl affects every corner of the United States including Rutherford County. A nonprofit group called Forgotten Victims of Fentanyl is working to raise awareness of fentanyl in order to prevent more people deaths. Maria Deckert is spearheading the effort in Rutherford County. The local organization is aligned with other similar groups across North Carolina.

Forgotten Victims of Fentanyl is hosting meeting on Sunday, August 6, from 2-4 p.m. at Bill’s Creek Community Center, 1978 Club House Road, Lake Lure.  This meeting is for families and friends of those who have died from fentanyl overdoses.  And it is for anyone with an interest in learning more about the fentanyl problem.  Deckert said Monday. “We want to Come together, and share our stories.  We want to help saves by informing the public about the dangers of fentanyl.”

For Deckert who lives in Rutherford County, this is personal.  Her son, Robert Deckert, was 33 years old when he died in Florida just over four years ago.  He had struggled with drug abuse for several years but was going through rehabilitation.

“I don’t want to see others die like he did.  I don’t want other families to go through the grief that we are going through,” Deckert said. 

Since 2013. more than 13,600 in North Carolina have been killed by fentanyl.  Statistics indicate there been 84 fentanyl related deaths in Rutherford County over the past nine years.

“This means there are 84 families that are permanently damaged by fentanyl,” Deckert said.

For the same period 57 fentanyl deaths in Cleveland County and 50 fentanyl deaths in McDowell County.

Eckert says fentanyl has killed not only active drug users but people who have accidentally come into contact with the drug.

“Fentanyl does not discriminate,” she said.  “Fentanyl kills babies, toddlers, middle schoolers and high schoolers, college students young adults.”

In order to better combat the fentanyl problem, Eckert says more people need to be made aware of it.

“We want to prevent more fentanyl deaths,” she said.

For more information about the Forgotten Victims of Fentanyl meeting, call 828-291-7951

You can find the original article on the Rutherford Courier website however it requires a subscription to access it.

Wilmington man pleads guilty in connection to fatal fentanyl overdose

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A man from Wilmington recently pleaded guilty to drug charges and a count of involuntary manslaughter in connection to a fatal fentanyl overdose in 2022.

Per District Attorney Ben David’s Office, Fred English pleaded guilty on Thursday, June 29, to the following charges:

  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule I controlled substance
  • Possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance

English was sentenced to 75-90 months in prison on Thursday, July 13.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WECT website.

Teens in rehab; CMS wrestler dead. Parents say fentanyl has breached school.

A boyish light had just seeped back into Laird Ramirez’ eyes.

The end of wrestling season brought more free time. With it, he mixed music, cracked jokes and relaxed. He loved life, and he loved his family. He was 17 and acting like it.

His smile was big, and his heart was beating.

The Hough High School rising junior wore well the unique independence that comes with being a teenager, his mom said.

But on July 1, he needed his parents one last time.

Authorities called Gwyneth Brown and Chris Ramirez to the two-story home in the Stratford Forest neighborhood.

They needed to identify his body — robbed of light and color — at a home in Cornelius, paramedics told them.

The night before he’d come and gone from the home, a friend’s house, a few times. At around 3 a.m., he’d returned for good and was chatting with friends when he abruptly beelined for a bed. He said didn’t feel good, his friends told his parents.

Twelve hours later, friends found him dead.

A fatal dose of fentanyl — from a pill he thought was a Percocet — killed him, his mom says.

Nine days later, police arrested and charged 21-year-old Ehsanullah “Sean” Ayaar with death by distribution, according to the Cornelius Police Department. He’s accused of supplying the drug that killed a juvenile, police said previously. A police statement indicates the death was in the Stratford Forest neighborhood.

Read the full article on the Charlotte Observer website.

NC man charged for selling a minor drugs that caused fatal overdose, police say

A 21-year-old has been charged with death by distribution after a juvenile died earlier this month of an overdose in Cornelius, according to police.

On July 1, police received a call around 3:15 p.m. about a possible overdose, the Cornelius Police Department said in a news release. When officers arrived they learned a juvenile was dead.

Detectives identified 21-year-old Ehsanullah “Sean” Ayaar as the source of the drugs, police said.

On Monday, Ayaar was arrested and charged with felony death by distribution. He was issued a $100,000 secured bond at the Mecklenburg County jail and was released on Wednesday morning.

Read the full article on Yahoo.com.

Violent Fayetteville Fentanyl Trafficker Sentenced to 35 years

NEW BERN, N.C. – A Fayetteville man was sentenced today to 420 months in prison for his role as the leader of a violent fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin trafficking organization. On January 11, 2023, Naji Michael Johnson, age 45, pled guilty to fentanyl conspiracy and fentanyl distribution charges.

“Naji Johnson used guns, violence, and intimidation to advance his drug trafficking enterprise in Fayetteville for 15 years, pushing kilogram quantities of cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl into our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley.  “Today, the community saw justice done.  Drug traffickers should see this 35 year sentence as a warning.  Partnerships between local and federal law enforcement are stronger than ever, and we are determined to keep North Carolina safe.  Our friends, neighbors, and families deserve no less.” 

“The sentencing of Naji Johnson supports the Fayetteville Police Department’s commitment and goal of keeping the City of Fayetteville safe and secure,” said Fayetteville Police Chief Kem Braden. “Naji Johnson was a career criminal responsible for numerous violent crimes in our community. The Fayetteville Police Department appreciates the hard work of the Federal, State, and local agencies responsible for removing a violent, career criminal from our community. The sentencing of Naji Johnson sends a clear message to other would-be criminals that violence within our City will not be tolerated.” 

“There is often a direct link between those trafficking drugs into our communities and those committing violent crimes,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “Disrupting these dangerous drug trafficking networks has an immediate and significant role in decreasing violent gun crime.”

Read the full article on the DOJ website.

Chuck Todd: China and Mexico ‘are not willing partners’ in addressing fentanyl crisis

The DEA calls fentanyl “the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered” yet the U.S. has struggled over administrations to address the growing crisis.

Chuck Todd discusses the sources of fentanyl coming into the US on Meet the Press

In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas discusses the crisis of fentanyl flowing into America and the Biden administration’s plan to handle an expected surge of migrants at the southern border.

Chuck Todd interviews Alejandro Mayorkas and discusses fentanyl beginning at the 8:53 mark.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) joins Meet the Press to discuss his state’s challenges in fighting addiction and the federal government’s failed responses in previous administrations.

Chuck Todd interviews Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown regarding the fentanyl crisis

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram says the Biden administration’s approach to the fentanyl epidemic is not a war on drugs but “a fight to save lives” and addresses China and Mexico’s roles in the illicit drug trade in an interview with Meet the Press.

Boone Police issues PSA after responding to four overdose calls Saturday

BOONE — The Boone Police Department has issued a public service announcement after officers responded to four overdose calls on Saturday, July 1.

“These were very serious cases and we came very close to losing a young man. We suspect fentanyl may be involved,” the department stated. “If you have never had to tell parents that their child is gone, consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately, we have lost count on how many times we have had to give parents and family members the worst news of their life, and we hope not to have to do it again today.

The department stated officers spend a lot of time and effort to arrest and disrupt drug traffickers and have a good deal of success intercepting shipments before it arrives in Boone, but cannot get it all.

“While I don’t condone the use of illegal substances, we care about everyone in our community, including those who struggle with addiction,” Boone Police Chief Andy Le Beau said. “Our goal is to save lives by encouraging users to get help and to bring drug dealers to justice.”

Read the full article on the Watauga Democrat website.