Of the nine children who overdosed, five of them died from fentanyl poisoning, according to police. A tenth child overdosed on THC.
The PPB's Narcotics and Organized Crime (NOC) Unit's data shows that the majority of victims are toddlers. The ages of the five who died are between 1 and 15 years old. The other victims that survived the poisonings are between the ages of 15 months and 17 years, KATU reports.
NOC described the following cases:
- 6/15/23 – 1-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim survived
- 6/19/23 – 2-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim is deceased
- 6/25/23 – 4-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim survived
- 7/19/23 – 1-year-old THC OD, victim survived
- 8/10/23 – 15-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim is deceased
- 8/24/23 – 1-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim is deceased
- 8/26/23 – 17-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim survived
- 9/14/23 – 5-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim is deceased
- 9/20/23 – 15-year-old Fentanyl OD, victim is deceased
- 9/22/23 – 15-month-old Fentanyl OD, victim survived
Portland police have responded to more than 240 overdose cases since the start of 2023. In comparison, police responded to 158 overdose cases for all of 2022, KATU reported.
To compare the increase in juvenile overdose cases, the Portland Police Bureau was alerted to a total of nine juvenile cases over the span of the last three years.
On whether or not parents or guardians will face prosecution, Portland Police Capt. Jake Jensen told the outlet that charges, if brought forward, could range from a misdemeanor to homicide.
"The investigators look at all kinds of factors. They look at what the culpable mental state is, they look at whether it's intentional conduct, or reckless, or negligent and they have to make a decision based on the facts on what the case looks like. So, it could be something like recklessly endangering which is a misdemeanor charge. It could be criminally negligent homicide," Jensen said. "It could be that we can't prove that this is a criminal case, it was simply a tragic accident and no charges are brought at all."
Following Oregon's decision to decriminalize hard drugs in 2021, overdoses and drug-related deaths have reached record-breaking levels. The largest spike comes primarily from opioids and fentanyl-laced methamphetamine.
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