The number today sits at 20. Last year at this time there were 24 overdose deaths in Yakima County. Coroner Jim Curtice says the numbers climb every month. He says last year Yakima County saw a record 98 overdoses with half connected to the deadly drug fentanyl.

Overdose deaths are happening not just in Yakima County

It's not just a problem in Yakima it's a big problem throughout the state. Officials with the Washington State Department of Health say 2,000 people died of drug overdoses in the state in 2021 which is a 66% increase over 2019. State Chief Science Officer Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett says anyone who buys drugs on the street, online or from a friend should assume the drugs are laced with fentanyl. He also recommends people carry naloxone that could prevent an opioid overdose death.

Fentanyl deaths are now more common than those tied to heroin

State officials say deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now more common than those involving heroin, with the highest death rates and largest increases being seen in rural areas like Yakima and Klickitat Counties.
Curtice says the number of opioid related deaths have been increasing in Yakima County for years. He says for example in 2020, 73 people died of overdoses. 50 people died of an overdose in all of 2019 in Yakima County. 38 overdosed and died in 2018.

Yakima's DEA Task Force made a big bust in March that could save lives

Local authorities are always looking for people who sell the deadly drugs on the streets of Yakima. In March members of the Yakima Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force arrested a 28-year-old man and seized thousands of fentanyl pills and other drugs. Officials with the DEA Task Force in Yakima say they arrested  Alejandro Fernandez. The arrest was made in mid March and is now being announced.
During the arrest in Yakima police say they were able to seize some 77,000 fentanyl pills, $17,000 in cash along with other drugs and firearms. Fernandez made an appearance in Yakima County Superior Court on Tuesday where bail was set at $200,000. He's facing charges of possession of fentanyl, cocaine with intent to deliver, First Degree unlawful firearms possession, driving with a suspended license and possession of a stolen firearm.

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