HACKENSACK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Law enforcement in New Jersey is out with a new warning about the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs after five women overdosed at a mall in Hackensack.
The death of Michelle Edoo from fentanyl is a warning signal to anyone who buys illicit drugs.
"There has never been a more risky time in our society for people who take illicit drugs," Bergen County Prosecutor Chief of Detectives Jason Love said.
Edoo was a 29-year-old single mother who died after ingesting fentanyl along with four other women who thought it was cocaine. Each one passed out in a lower parking deck of the Shops at Riverside Mall.
First responders used Narcan and administered CPR to save the women who survived. Authorities say they have seen a rise in cases of drugs such as cocaine being laced with fentanyl.
"Fentanyl is so cheap and readily available to drug dealers that it is being added to cocaine as in the death of Ms. Edoo," Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said.
Fentanyl can stop a person from breathing, so doctors say any amount of the synthetic drug can be dangerous.
"If there is a small amount of fentanyl in a cocaine supply and a patient doesn't have any tolerance for the fentanyl, they can be hurt severely by it," said Dr. Anthony Accurso of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
Authorities announced that two people have been arrested in connection with the sale and distribution of the drugs that killed Edoo and caused her friends to lose consciousness.
They identified the suspects as 48-year-old Garfield Jones and 52-year-old Robert McRae, who were arrested on drug distribution charges.
But fentanyl-related overdoses are up dramatically in Bergen County and authorities say the drug does not discriminate. It can be found in any opioids not prescribed by a doctor. They urge the public to beware.
"This is not Russian roulette, if you take drugs or medication not prescribed from a doctor, it will contain fentanyl," Love said.
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