PHOTO: Riverside County DA, bumper sticker

RIVERSIDE – (INT) – Updated figures show that fatalities attributed to fentanyl poisoning are escalating.

In 2017, there were 25 deaths in Riverside County involving fentanyl poisoning. In 2020, that number skyrocketed to 227. A report from the District Attorney’s office found Riverside County is on pace to potentially see more than 500 fentanyl-related deaths this year.

Prosecutors are charging those who sell or provide fentanyl-laced pills to people who die with second-degree murder. So far, six such cases have been filed.

Various law enforcement agencies have banded with others in the community to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl. Riverside County has formed a task force to get the word out and help stem the growing number of deaths.