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Authorities probe whether three Oroville overdoses linked to mass overdose in Chico

Authorities in Butte County are investigating whether the overdose of three people at Gold Country Casino on Monday morning is related to a mass overdose in Chico over the weekend that left one man dead and more than a dozen others hospitalized.

A woman and two men, who were at the Oroville casino with a 5-month-old child, were taken to a hospital after showing signs of a drug overdose, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department said. Authorities suspect they used heroin and said all three are now stable.

The child was also taken to a hospital and is stable.

Investigators are working to determine where the drugs came from and whether fentanyl was involved.

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“We are concerned that the potency of the illegal drugs on the street right now is very high or the possibility of the drugs being laced with another substance, which is causing these overdoses,” Sheriff Kory Honea said in a statement.

The incident comes after a man named Aris Turner died and several others overdosed at a Chico home Saturday. Police and firefighters responded shortly after 9 a.m. to the 1100 block of Santana Court and found several people in varying states of consciousness, Chico Police Chief Michael O’Brien told reporters.

The first two officers who arrived at the scene began to administer CPR and gave doses of naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses. O’Brien said officers began carrying the drug last year because they often deal with heroin overdoses.

O’Brien said paramedics took about 12 people, aged 19 to 30, to Enloe Medical Center. The two Chico police officers who had arrived at the scene first were also taken to a hospital after saying they felt ill, O’Brien said. They were treated and released.

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Authorities believe the mass overdose was caused by the ingestion of fentanyl or a similar drug.

Fresno police were also investigating a fatal fentanyl incident in which three men were found unconscious last week on the floor of an apartment in the 900 block of Van Ness in Fresno. One died and two others were treated at Community Regional Medical Center and released, authorities said.

The survivors told investigators that they had bought and cut up what they thought was powdered cocaine. Within two minutes of ingesting it, all three men began feeling light-headed and dizzy, said Deputy Chief Pat Farmer of the Fresno Police Department.

A toxicology test showed the drug was pure fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that authorities said can be fatal even in small doses because it is often 50 times more potent than heroin.

“Fortunately for them, a neighbor came to visit his friends at this apartment, saw them passed out on the ground and called 911,” Farmer said.

It’s unclear whether the Fresno and Chico cases are related.

“The message that we want to get out to the community is that you don’t know what you’re purchasing. If you’re going to be buying drugs on the street, you don’t know what they’re cutting it with. In this instance, it was fentanyl,” Farmer said. “We knew that there was lot of cases on the East Coast and in the mid-United States and it was making its way to the West Coast. Well, we can say with certainty that it’s here.”

alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

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Twitter: @AleneTchek


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