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drugs and contraband from the arrest
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Overdoses On The Rise, Warnings From Santa Clarita J-Team

Deputies with the Juvenile Intervention Team, (J-Team), discussed the rising cases of drug overdoses in Santa Clarita with three more reported this year than in 2020.  

On Tuesday, Jeff Cacic, a detective with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s J-Team met with KHTS to do a review of 2021 and educate the community on the dangers of drugs, but more specifically, fentanyl. 

Fentanyl is an opiate, a relaxant; fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Fentanyl is a pain medication prescribed by doctors, but also illegally manufactured as an illicit substance and sold. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, 50-100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times the strength of heroin.  

“Fentanyl is the big reason why we have a lot of overdoses around here,” Cacic said. “Fentanyl is potent, fifty times the strength of heroin. A lethal overdose of fentanyl is .02gm, which is a usable amount of meth or heroin. The same amount of heroin you need to get high, fentanyl will kill.”

This deadly narcotic can be found in many forms. It can be a powder that is snorted like cocaine, a liquid that can be injected like heroin, and even a pill-form that looks similar to oxy pills. 

See Related: On-Duty Santa Clarita Deputy Hospitalized For Accidental Fentanyl Overdose

In the recent rise in support of the removal of Los Angeles District Attorney (D.A.)  George Gascón, a common topic of discussion has been the controversial policies allowing cases of drug possession and sales to be reduced and/or dismissed by the office of the D.A. 

“It’s not just saying ‘we shouldn’t prosecute drugs’. But now we need to find another solution,” Cacic said. “We need to find classes or rehab to help intervene to help people get off drugs.” 

As a deputy involved with drug-related crimes, Cacic says his main goal is not to put people behind bars; he wants to help these people get back on their feet and off of the drugs that will inevitably kill them. 

“Not only are drugs a contributing factor to other crimes, such as theft, crimes get committed to support drug habits. Drugs have psychoactive effects, it messes with them mentally. If there’s a way to get help, intervention, to treat people properly, that would help out a lot,” said Cacic.

With 29 overdose deaths from fentanyl in Santa Clarita this year, the record is sadly once again broken. In 2019 Santa Clarita saw 13 deaths, rising to 23 in 2020. With one week left in the year, Santa Clarita could see even more before the entrance of 2022. These numbers are undoubtedly on the rise, making this a real, increasingly dangerous threat.

According to Cacic, during 2021 Santa Clarita deputies made 25 juvenile arrests for possession of drugs, most of which were marijuana possessions on school property. Thankfully, the deputies did not encounter any situations where a juvenile was arrested for heroin possession, though there was one arrest for juvenile possession of methamphetamines. 

One local option for teens who are struggling with substance abuse is Insight. An out-patient treatment center focused on healing for the whole family, Insight recommends that parents who are prescribed heavy-duty medication keep it well out of sight and locked down from their teens and children.  

See Related: Overdoses On The Rise, Get Help For Your Teen At Insight Treatment Center

For adults in the Santa Clarita Valley, 164 arrests were made for possession of opioids, 34 for selling opioids, and a disturbingly impressive 600 arrests made for possession of meth and 71 for sales of meth, in 2021. 

Cacic estimates that of the 600 arrests made for methamphetamine possession, most if not all were dismissed by the D.A.’s office. 

Due to the isolation of the pandemic, deputies saw a decrease in juvenile drug arrests. Juveniles are most often exposed to drugs through their peers and older siblings, and without being out at school or parties, they are much less likely to be exposed and caught. With teens being back in school or at college, the community is seeing a spike in juvenile arrests.

If drugs or drug paraphernalia is found, it is important for your safety and the safety of others that you call the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to report it, and deputies will come to the location and safely remove the item(s). 

As most of the Santa Clarita community is already aware, Saturday, Dec. 18, a Santa Clarita deputy was exposed to fentanyl while on duty and was transported by ambulance as a result of the incident.

“The incident Saturday night, we found a large amount of fentanyl on a person. The deputy opened the container and it was so full of fentanyl that it overflowed onto his hand. The mere transdermal contact isn’t as bad as we once believed, however with the drugs being in powder form, it gets airborne and if we inhale it, that’s when the effects can happen. The deputy began to feel lightheaded with a blood pressure spike, and out of caution we requested an ambulance to our location. He was taken to the hospital out of an abundance of caution,” said Cacic, who was present for the incident.

If you suspect someone has overdosed, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you need counsel on how to get help for yourself or a loved one, call Robby Robinson at 661-607-2038.


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Overdoses On The Rise, Warnings From Santa Clarita J-Team

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About Grace Halaby

Grace Halaby is a Washington State native currently attending The Master’s University and will graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications- Creative Writing and Publishing. She joined the KHTS News Team in February 2021 and when Grace isn’t writing or studying, she can be found reading, or exploring California with her husband Peyton.