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Metro police cite steep climb in fentanyl deaths last year, warn public of dangers |

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Metro police cite steep climb in fentanyl deaths last year, warn public of dangers

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) -- Fentanyl deaths rose 200% in a single year in Southern Nevada, according to Metro police.

That's perhaps the scariest piece of the puzzle in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's fight against narcotics in the Las Vegas valley.

"We're here this morning because of the alarming increase that this community has seen in overdose deaths last year," said Narcotics Crimes Bureau Cpt. John Pelletier.

"Last year alone, we had a 30% increase -- from 591 to 768. What's even more shocking is we had just under a 200% increase in fentanyl-related deaths, from 74 to 219," he said.

"To put it in perspective, in August alone, we had 31 deaths. That is a death a day from fentanyl," Pelletier said.

Pelletier warned the public not to take fentanyl pills, because you might not know what you're getting. A tiny amount of the drug can kill.

To illustrate how deadly fentanyl can be, Metro showed a photo of a penny with a deadly dose of fentanyl beside it.

"If you are not prescribed that drug from a pharmacist and a doctor, do not take it. Fentanyl is often disguised as a prescription pill, but it can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine or heroin," Pelletier said.

"People that die from fentanyl believe they are taking a prescription-grade pill, but they are taking a street -- or "pressed" -- pill that was made who-knows-where with who-knows-what," he said

A Wall Street Journal story published today cites a 162% increase in deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl in the Las Vegas area last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 10 western states reported over a 98% increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths.

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