‘One final deadly dose:’ Fentanyl trafficker sentenced to 15 years after woman overdoses and dies

A Raleigh man is being sent to prison after officials from the U.S. Department of Justice say he assisted in distributing fentanyl to a 22-year-old woman who overdosed and died.

A Raleigh man is being sent to prison after officials from the U.S. Department of Justice say he assisted in distributing fentanyl to a 22-year-old woman who overdosed and died.

Treveris Montel Coward, also known as ‘Bad News,’ was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he pled guilty on October 4, 2022.

“Drug dealers are increasingly selling drugs laced with deadly fentanyl to make them stronger, more addictive, and more profitable. Now thousands of North Carolinians, including kids, are dying from overdoses,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley.

According to court documents, the victim had previously suffered an overdose, and Coward rendered aid to help her survive. However, despite her recent overdose, he provided her with more fentanyl the following day — causing her to overdose and die.

Easley called Coward “the worst kind of coward” for “rendering aid to an overdose victim only to sell her one final deadly dose.”

He says he hopes narcotics dealers will pay attention to the 15-year sentence.

“If your drugs kill, you will pay a heavy price,” he said.

The sentencing of Coward is an example of the collaborative effort of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Raleigh Police Department in holding those who distribute deadly substances into our community responsible.

“We are grateful for our partnership. Coward distributed fentanyl to a vulnerable 22-year-old individual who was susceptible to an overdose, which led to her tragic death,” said Raleigh Chief of Police Estella Patterson. “[We] will not yield in the fight against fentanyl.”

The Fentanyl Death Crisis in America

Medication for reversing overdose is life-saving—if used quickly and correctly.

KEY POINTS
  • Fentanyl is a major threat causing overdose deaths in the United States.
  • Young people are unknowingly taking fentanyl and dying.
  • Fentanyl smoking is contributing to overdose and speedballing deaths.
  • Government and private agencies are cracking down on illegal fentanyl, but it’s an uphill fight.

“It is the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced.” says Anne Milgram, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), referring to the threat of fentanyl in the United States. She should know.

We still have record deaths, and that’s after the DEA seized more than 80 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder so far in 2024 . The fentanyl seizures represent more than 157.6 million deadly doses; 70% of the counterfeit pills contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. Sometimes, the drug is smoked and as with intravenous injection, speeds access to the brain, further endangering users.

The best new prevention approach, the “One Pill Can Kill” initiative led by the DEA, is amplified by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and other volunteers educating the public and seeking to prevent flooding of the U.S. with fentanyl and fentanyl-laced fake pills resembling Xanax, Oxycontin, Adderall, Vicodin and other popular prescription medications—but with a deadly twist. The counterfeit pills, more often than not, contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.

“CADCA and its 7,000 coalition members across the nation have worked tirelessly to address the issue of fentanyl-laced fake pills that are poisoning our nation’s youth by planning and implementing comprehensive, data-driven strategies, with multiple public and private partners to address community conditions causing this problem,” said CADCA’s president and CEO, retired Army general Barrye L. Price.

Continue reading “The Fentanyl Death Crisis in America”

Pill press molds used to produce illicit fentanyl targeted in legislation in Congress

by Lia Chien, NC Newsline
May 30, 2024

WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation pushed in both chambers of Congress aims to stop illegal fentanyl production and trafficking by focusing on the machinery used to manufacture pills.

The Criminalizing Abused Substance Templates, or CAST, Act would redefine the criminal penalty for producing counterfeit drugs using a pill press. Counterfeiting drugs is already illegal as outlined in the Controlled Substances Act  but no penalty is included in the law.

Under CAST, it would be illegal to possess a pill press mold with the intent to produce schedule I or II drugs, a crime punishable for up to 20 years.

CAST was introduced in the House by Reps. Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, and David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican, in October 2019 and it was reintroduced in March 2023.

The bill got a boost earlier this month when Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., introduced it in the upper chamber.

Overdoses and deaths

The bill particularly targets the production and distribution of opioids, especially fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with an incredibly high potency, about 100 times more than morphine. As a result, it’s often mixed into other drugs to increase strength, sometimes in lethal doses.

Synthetic opioids are the main drivers of opioid overdoses. Between 2020 and 2021, deaths involving synthetic opioids like illegally made fentanyl rose by 55%, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Opioid-related and other drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 people are highest in West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Lawmakers attribute this rise in fentanyl-related deaths to the counterfeit market and drug trafficking.

“The overdose crisis and the rising scourge of fentanyl are undoubtedly made worse by the rise in use of illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs,” Spanberger said in a statement about her legislation.

“By stepping up penalties for narcotics traffickers who use illicit pill presses to manufacture drugs, our bipartisan legislation would empower our law enforcement officers to crack down on these criminals and prevent dangerous substances — such as fentanyl — from being pressed into illicit pills and sold on our streets.”

Much of the illicit fentanyl sold in the U.S. contains at least a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, 2 mg. A DEA study found that 42% of tested pills contained this amount or more, some as much as 5.1 mg.

Lawmakers said they want to ensure law enforcement officials have the necessary tools to stop the production and sale of these drugs.

“Strengthening penalties for the criminals creating these counterfeit drugs can help get them off the market,” said Hassan in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools that they need to crack down on criminals making counterfeit drugs.”

According to the DEA, because lethal doses of fentanyl are often mixed in with other drugs, it can be “possible for someone to take a pill without knowing it contains fentanyl.” Cassidy said the CAST Act could prevent these deaths.

“No one should have to worry if their medicines are counterfeit or laced with fentanyl,” he said.

NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: info@ncnewsline.com. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Police charge man in fentanyl death

A Wilson man has been charged with felony death by distribution in a teenager’s death from fentanyl intoxication last year.

Albert Graham Green, 23, was initially arrested on Oct. 28 and charged with selling and delivering a Schedule II controlled substance in connection with the juvenile’s death, according to a release from Sgt. Eric McInerny, public information officer with the Wilson Police Department. 

Green was given a $100,000 secured bond and placed in the Wilson County Detention Center.

On Tuesday, Green was charged with felony death by distribution. 

Green turned himself in on Wednesday and was released on a $1 million unsecured bond. 

McInerny said officers with the Wilson Police Department were dispatched to 1705 Hillcrest Drive for a report of an unconscious person at 8:20 p.m. on Sept. 25.

Dispatchers told police that a 17-year-old boy was unresponsive and not breathing, McInerny said. Officers arrived on scene and Wilson County EMS pronounced the juvenile deceased.

Continue reading “Police charge man in fentanyl death”

Fentvic Meetup #12 Durham County + Chatham, Granville, Orange, Person & Wake Counties

FENTANYL VICTIMS’ FAMILIES ORGANIZE TO FIGHT ILLICIT FENTANYL IN NC!

Fentvic Meetup #12 (open to the public)
Durham County + Chatham, Granville, Orange, Person & Wake Counties

DateSaturday, June 1, 2024, 2:00-4:00 pm
Location406 East Trinity Avenue
American Legion Bldg
Durham NC 27701

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools passes Narcan policy unanimously, parents reflect

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools votes unanimously

WINSTON-SALEM — Numbers from Forsyth County show that 22 minors have overdosed within the first three months of this year. The average age of those children is 11 years old.

Annie Vasquez with Forsyth Regional Opioid & Substance Use Team thinks that adding the life-saving drug to schools makes the biggest of difference.

“So I feel better that somebody at each of my kids’ school will know how to use Narcan, and will have it available to them,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez is an opioid survivor herself and says that this policy gives peace of mind for her own children.

“My personal story of making it out alive, I hope, will both inspire other folks that they can do it, or their family member can do it. But I also am here to advocate for all of those people that do use drugs now, that there is hope out there,” said Vasquez.

Andrea Scales lost her son Jeremiah Scales to fentanyl overdose and speaks about how this policy resonates.

I lost my son to unknowingly ingesting fentanyl, and this happened June 3rd of 2022. This coming Monday will be two years since his passing. Jeremiah was my only child and it makes me feel so good to be able to be apart of the change. This will change a life,” said Scales.

The school board passed the policy unanimously, with the end goal to carry Narcan in all of their schools.

Read the article on the ABC45 News website.

Davidson County nonprofit pushes for opioid overdose-reversing drug in all NC schools

Narcan is becoming more readily available in public places, including this free vending machine in the Forsyth County Detention Center. PAUL GARBER/WFDD

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools officials are considering placing the opioid overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, in all of its schools. That’s something Barbara Walsh of Davidson County would like to see happen statewide. She lost her daughter, Sophia, to an accidental overdose. 

Wake Forest University student Marc Isabella spoke to Walsh about her advocacy through the nonprofit she started, Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina. 

Interview highlightsOn the goals of her nonprofit: 

“I did not know how to spell fentanyl when my daughter died, but it appears to me that the focus is on the numbers. And the numbers just really don’t mean much until you put faces to them. That’s what the goal is. I am finding families every day who have lost someone to fentanyl. They typically feel very alone, thinking their child was the only one who has died this way. But that’s not true.”

On her priorities for addressing the opioid crisis:

“In North Carolina, I would like to see Naloxone in all 100 counties. That’s the easiest way to save a life. We think all the schools should have it just in case a student does something… If they have Naloxone on school premises and somebody goes down and has a fentanyl emergency in the bathroom, they can save her life. And if they don’t have a fentanyl emergency, and they still administer Naloxone, nothing happens. They’re safe.”

On the biggest obstacle to getting Naloxone in schools:

“I would say that there are many preconceived notions. Nobody spends any time to figure out who that person is, and how fentanyl got into their body… Education about the danger of fentanyl is critical.”

On whether there’s a difference in attitudes on Naloxone between rural and urban counties:

“That’s a great question. Mecklenburg County just approved Naloxone in its schools in January. Rural Harnett County just approved it in December, to have it in all schools and on the school buses. You have some counties in eastern North Carolina, which are all rural, they have school policies to have it in the district. Every school in the district has Naloxone. So it’s kind of a crapshoot.”

Read the article and listen to the interview on the WFDD website.

Drugs sold as fentanyl in Goldsboro, Edgecombe overdoses contained 8 different substances

Xylazine, Benzatropine, a hallucinogen and another kind of designer chemical among drugs detected in sample linked to dozens of eastern North Carolina overdoses.

It’s been six weeks since four people died in Goldsboro in four days and more than a dozen others across eastern North Carolina overdosed in a matter of weeks.

Families, community members and law enforcement have been searching for answers about what caused this uptick.

This week, scientists at the UNC Street Drug Analysis Lab were able to provide those. The test results from a sample collected in a baggie show that what was sold as illegal fentanyl was actually a mixture of eight different drugs.

“It turns out it was a particularly nasty mix of substances that involved fentanyl and xylazine, Benzatropine, a hallucinogen and another kind of designer chemical,” said Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, a senior scientist in the lab. “It was really unexpected so it’s not surprising that a mix like that leads to a lot of overdoses.”

The lab has partnerships with dozens of health organizations, including Edgecombe County EMS. In the weeks since the uptick in overdoses in the county, Dalton Barrett and Dasgupta have formed a friendship as they both work with the common goal to address the crisis in a data-driven, science-led manner.

“This was pretty eye opening for us,” Barrett said. “When I saw the results, there was a number of things that I’d never seen before in Edgecombe County, per se, and it didn’t really make sense as far as the mixture.”

Read more: Drugs sold as fentanyl in Goldsboro, Edgecombe overdoses contained 8 different substances

This is their second attempt at trying to identify what was in the supply that resulted in 16 nonfatal overdoses in Edgecombe during a two-week span last month. The first sample came from a dollar bill but there wasn’t enough residue for an analysis.

“I was extremely disappointed about the dollar bill sample,” Dalton said. ” I felt like maybe I had done something wrong or we just didn’t get lucky and sometimes that’s just how it goes. But being able to put our finger on this is gonna be a big, big deal for us.”

This time, the sample came from a stamp bag. The street product is known as Pringles.

What’s particularly unsettling: a few months earlier Barrett had samples tested from a different bag that had the same stamp and the results came back vastly different.

“Usually, we try and think about these stamps as like, labels on a beer bottle like this is Michelob Ultra, this is this and it’s like the same thing, time and time again,” Barrett explained. “But that’s not the case.”

Barrett says people in the community likely didn’t know that it was a mixture of so many substances since it had that same stamp and they had been safe using it in the past.

“Even the person selling it probably had no idea that it contained these substances,” Dasgupta said.

With the variety of drugs in the supply, WRAL News asked whether would naloxone work to reverse an overdose. Both men said yes, but the people probably would’ve remained unconscious because of how potent the substance was. It is unclear if xyzlazine testing strips would have worked in this case.

Barrett says they’re unsure if this contaminated supply remains in the area. They’ve seen a 33% drop in overdoses this month compared to last. Still, he says it’s “a big, big deal” they were able to put their finger on what exactly is in supply and he is hopeful the results will raise awareness and save lives.

“Seeing people of my age dying from something that we can prevent really kind of tickles my heartstrings as a medical professional,” Barrett said.

‘Fentanyl is everywhere.’ Wake schools wants to be ready to treat opioid overdoses.

Wake County schools will now be required to make sure that they’ve got employees who can treat opioid overdoses on campus.

The Wake County school board approved Tuesday a new policy on the emergency use of Naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose when given in time. Every Wake school will be required to have at least three employees who are trained in how to administer Naloxone, which is the generic name for the drug Narcan.

The policy comes as opioid overdoses and addiction have surged nationally.

In 2022, 219 people died from drug overdoses in Wake County, The News & Observer previously reported. Opioids — medicines prescribed for pain like codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone and morphine — were responsible in three-quarters of the deaths.

“Fentanyl is everywhere,” said school board member Wing Ng. “Fentanyl is a crisis. We all have to be aware of the signs and symptoms.”

STOCKING NALOXONE IN SCHOOLS

The policy directs Superintendent Robert Taylor to develop a program to place Naloxone at schools, early learning centers and district administrative offices. There’s currently no money in the budget to purchase Naloxone. The district estimates that it could cost $6,500 to $30,000 to place two Naloxone doses at each school. The board accelerated adoption of the policy to get it in place before a June 5 deadline to apply for funding from the county.

Read the full article on the Raleigh News & Observer website.

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