Earlier this week, Fairfax County Police responded to a scene where six people had overdosed. The mother of one of the victims noticed the overdose signs and called 9-1-1.
Detectives from the Organized Crime and Narcotics Division and the Major Crimes Bureau continue to investigate after the individuals were found unresponsive at 3 a.m. September 20 in an apartment in the 5500 block of Seminary Road in Falls Church.
“One man is clinging to life right now and four others are recovering after a lethal overdose in Falls Church,” said FCPD Chief Kevin Davis. He said that police and rescue personnel administered life-saving Naloxone, or Narcan, the antidote to a fatal overdose to the six patients. “Having this treatment available undoubtedly saved their lives.”
When officers arrived, they discovered one woman unconscious on the sidewalk and immediately rendered aid, according to the FCPD. As additional officers arrived, four men and a woman were found unconscious inside the apartment. The six individuals were adults ranging in age from 23 to 35 years of age. They were taken to local hospitals and four remain hospitalized.
“We believe that there is a fatal batch of cocaine laced with fentanyl in our community,” said Davis. He said the individuals were at a club in Alexandria earlier in the evening called Babylon Café. “We know they came from Babylon Café back to their apartment dwelling and that’s where we believe they ingested the cocaine laced with fentanyl and then overdosed.” The chief clarified in a news conference they preliminarily believe the substance is cocaine, but samples have been sent to the lab for testing.
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid used as a pain medication and together with other medications for anesthesia. When laced with recreational drugs it has potentially deadly overdose effects.
Davis said just last week police responded to five overdoses. “Thankfully none of those people died,” he said. FCPD has responded to 201 overdoses so far this year, up from 185 overdoses responded to at this time last year. The chief said that the number of overdoses to which FCPD responded went up 50 percent in 2020 from the numbers in 2019. Davis said there has been a slight decrease in fatal overdoses so far this year.
“This is a homegrown problem, as 80 percent of the fatal and non-fatal overdoses from last year were Fairfax County residents,” said Davis. “The youngest overdose was from a 14 year old child, the oldest victim was 63.” More than 150 search warrants were executed related to opioid investigations and nine suspects were charged with drug offenses related to these investigations, according to the chief.
Although Davis talked about the intervention and resources for the overdose victims, he emphasized that education continues to be the best combatant in this fight to save lives. “Fairfax County offers free Narcan training,” he said. “Take advantage of this training.” To find out more about this training offered by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board visit fairfaxcounty.gov/csb/revive/ Training is open to everyone.
“In terms of criminal culpability and accountability, it’s the drug dealer,” said Davis. “That’s who we’re ultimately interested in identifying and our detectives are working really hard right now to identify this person.”
Symptoms of opioid overdose include some of the following: loss of consciousness, pinpoint pupils, snore-like gurgling sounds, breathing is low, shallow or erratic, bluish purple, or ashen skin color, nausea or vomiting, or fingernails turn blue or close to black. “It’s not something we want people to take lightly if they see these signs in their loved one,” said Davis. “If they see any of those signs it’s a good possibility that an overdose is taking place and we need to get fire and rescue and police to the scene.”
Help is available 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know needs help to overcome drug dependence, please call the CSB at Merrified Center at 703-573-5679 to find appropriate treatment and recovery services. Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.