Santa Rita Jail had eight fentanyl overdoses over two-week period

DUBLIN — Within a two-week period last month, Santa Rita Jail saw a reported eight fentanyl overdoses — more than one every two days on average — including at least one fatality, authorities say.

The staggering tally doesn’t include the suspected fatal drug overdose that killed 33-year-old Candice “Cody” Vanburen earlier this month. Vanburen was the fourth person to die in the jail within a month, include two suspected fentanyl overdoses, one suicide, and one that remains under investigation but was initially classified as a medical emergency.

All of those who died were in the jail’s intake area.

The four deaths led to a join statement by six local civil rights organizations calling on Alameda County to “significantly decrease the jail population, divest from the ACSO and SRJ, and put those resources back into the community.” Santa Rita Jail is the only adult jail in Alameda County since the Glenn Dryer jail was shut down over budget concerns in 2019.

The eight reported overdoses occurred from Feb. 1 to Feb. 13, when 39-year-old Elizabeth Laurel was found unresponsive on her bunk in a Santa Rita Jail cell, and later pronounced dead of a suspected fentanyl overdose. Two days earlier, San Leandro police arrested Laurel on suspicion of possessing more than a quarter-pound of fentanyl and more than an ounce of methamphetamine, authorities say.

The overdoses triggered an investigation into alleged fentanyl smuggling into the jail, but no arrests have been announced thus far. Last year, police identified several suspects in unrelated drug smuggling operations into Santa Rita, including the arrest of a San Leandro woman accused of running a “sophisticated” ring to sneak in methamphetamine by soaking postcards in a liquidized form of the drug.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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