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After 7th Death, DEA Takes Over Search For Fentanyl Pills In Sacramento

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Drug Enforcement Administration is taking over an investigation into how fentanyl ended up in drugs in the Sacramento area after a seventh person is believed to have been killed by the drug.

The family of Jerome Butler says he was taken off life support on Wednesday afternoon, just three days after his mother said he took a pill for chronic stomach pain he didn't know had been laced with Fentanyl.

The drug is also believed to be responsible for 21 other hospitalizations.

CBS13 has learned recession budget cuts claimed narcotics teams in the Sacramento area who would track down drugs like Fentanyl.

Assemblyman Jim Cooper was once an undercover cop who busted drug dealers daily. He established Sacramento County's first street narcotics team in 1988.

"It was turn and burn; you go out arrest someone, and get the next one," he said.

His unit was dedicated to finding the guys dealing prescription pills like the ones now being blamed for multiple deaths in Sacramento County.
"It's unfortunate, because those folks—the actual dealers selling out there right now—they're out there unimpeded. They could do whatever they want," he said.

The recession claimed the sheriff's department's team in 2008, while the Sacramento Police Department got rid of theirs in 2011. Neither has been restored.

Both agencies declined on-camera interviews, but defend their current operations. They say high-level drug task forces now pick up the slack.

"There's lots of task forces in Sacramento, but they work on high-level drug dealers, but the street teams, they go out every night for that purpose, arresting drug dealers," Cooper said.

He hopes the pill problem could be solved with a bill that would make locking pill bottles available to people with prescriptions, making it harder for addicts to steal the drugs.

For now, he hopes to see street teams back on the street deterring drug dealers and their deadly combinations.

"Otherwise you're going to see more deaths with this," he said.

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