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Shocking overdoses at New Jersey mall shines a spotlight on the Tri-State Area's fentanyl crisis

Overdoses at NJ mall shine spotlight on fentanyl crisis
Overdoses at NJ mall shine spotlight on fentanyl crisis 01:49

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Police are still investigating the shocking overdoses of five women at a New Jersey mall this week, and the case is bringing to light the fentanyl crisis here in the Tri-State Area and across the country.

"Nothing that's bought on the street is what they think it is. Right? Every pill that they're buying on the street and not prescribed through a doctor is a death sentence, potentially," said Jason Love, chief of detectives with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

That death sentence was narrowly avoided Wednesday after five women overdosed in a parking garage at the Shops at Riverside mall in Hackensack. They were revived when first responders deployed the life-saving drug Narcan.

It's believed the women took drugs laced with fentanyl.

READ MORE: Police: 5 mall employees treated for apparent fentanyl overdose at The Shops at Riverside in Hackensack, N.J.

CBS2's Nick Caloway sat down with Love to find out just how bad the problem is.

"So what we're doing is, with Narcan deployments being able to revive these people, is that we're putting a Band-Aid on a wound that is not healing," Love said.

Love spent years working narcotics cases but says the fentanyl crisis playing out in the United States today is alarming.

There were more than 700 overdoses in Bergen County alone last year. Of those 700, 125 were fatal, and the vast majority of those cases involved fentanyl.

The crisis is only getting worse.


In 2015, 4% of heroin submissions to the state lab were laced with fentanyl. Last year, that number ballooned to 97%.

And it's not just heroin.

"Any pill, any powder, any substance that they buy on the street potentially will have fentanyl in it," Love said.

One of the women who overdosed at the mall Wednesday night is still in the hospital. Police say it's another sign that they are losing the fight against fentanyl.

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