The fentanyl crisis in America is increasingly involving coroners, medical examiners and more.

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Dr. Corinne Stern is a different kind of doctor.

Instead of helping sick patients recover, Stern’s job is to get to the bottom of what killed a person – by determining the cause and manner of death.

For over 15 years, Stern worked as a county medical examiner. Laredo, Texasinvestigating everything from accidents to violent crimes.

But last year, she began to notice a disturbing connection to the many bodies on the autopsy table.

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“Before 2021, I rarely saw fentanyl death in this office,” Dr. Stern told Fox News.

“Now I would say that at least half of my overdoses are related to fentanyl,” she continued.

On July 8 and 9 this year in Omaha, Nebraska, the Drug Enforcement Administration confiscated 32,000 counterfeit pills that looked like legitimate prescription pills.

On July 8 and 9 this year in Omaha, Nebraska, the Drug Enforcement Administration confiscated 32,000 counterfeit pills that looked like legitimate prescription pills.
(DEA)

Dr. Stern is definitely not alone.

Perhaps no other profession is more involved in America’s unfolding fentanyl crisis than those tasked with investigating overdose deaths—the country’s coroners, medical examiners, and medical examiners.

“These overdoses affect all ages,” says Bobby Joe O’Neill, coroner for Charleston County, South Carolina.

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“From old to young, teens to 80s… all demographics,” she said.

O’Neill is also president of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, a group that helps other industry professionals hone their craft.

The total street value of 150,000 pills recently seized in California is estimated at $750,000, according to the sheriff's office.

The total street value of 150,000 pills recently seized in California is estimated at $750,000, according to the sheriff’s office.
(Tulare County Sheriff’s Office)

She said that colleagues across the country, from big cities to small towns, are seeing a growing number of counterfeit pills.

“The pill might say Xanax or they might have a code – but they might be counterfeit and it’s actually fentanyl,” O’Neill explained.

A small amount of a synthetic opioid can be fatal and people may take it unconsciously.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that four out of every 10 counterfeit pills tested test positive for a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, which is about 2 milligrams (roughly the size of 10-12 grains of table salt).

Learned the truth the hard way

Officials say fentanyl has become a common ingredient mixed with other drugs because it’s cheap and fairly easy to get.

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This is an obvious problem given that small amounts of a synthetic opioid can be lethal and that people can take it unknowingly.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen recently stated that the sale price of the M30 fentanyl tablet in Montana is almost six times the price of the same tablet in other cities across the country.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen recently stated that the sale price of the M30 fentanyl tablet in Montana is almost six times the price of the same tablet in other cities across the country.

It’s something mom Jennifer Talamantes learned the hard way two years ago.

“I never thought that my sun die from drugs or an overdose,” she told Fox News.

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Jennifer’s son, Jacob, died after taking Percocet, which contains fentanyl.

He was only 25 years old. His mother says he wouldn’t have taken it if he knew what was in it.

Last year, 66 percent of all drug overdoses in America involved fentanyl.

“Now they are paying with their lives for that one mistake,” Talamantes said.

“One of those pills might just be the end of it.”

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Last year, 66 percent of all drug overdoses in America involved fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Officials fighting on the front lines of this new war on drugs fear the situation could get worse before it gets better.

These illegal pills containing fentanyl were seized by the Montana Highway Patrol.

These illegal pills containing fentanyl were seized by the Montana Highway Patrol.
(Fox News)

They say mass education campaigns that warn people (especially children) about the dangers of fentanyl are critical to addressing the problem.

Parents in America for example, as Talamantes says, the best advice is to be open and honest with your children—and make it crystal clear that it’s enough to make just one mistake.

“Let them know how deadly it is,” Talamantes pleaded.

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“Just one pill. One pill or one night to have a good time with friends,” she said.

This is a simple choice that can have irreversible consequences.