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War on Drugs

‘One Pill Kills’: 15-year-old dies from one pill laced with fentanyl; purchased from classmate

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Just one pill killed 15-year-old Melanie Ramos at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood. Friends and family say Ramos, to their knowledge, did not use drugs, but was killed by taking just one pill of a drug containing a deadly dose of fentanyl before her body was discovered in the school bathroom.

Ramos and a friend are believed to have purchased the plus from another 15-year-old male student at the school who has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

In addition to the 15-year-old suspect, a 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of narcotics sales for allegedly selling pills at nearby Lexington Park on Tuesday to a third student, a 17-year-old boy from Hollywood High School. The identities of the arrested boys were not released because they are minors. They are students at Apex Academy, a charter school on the Bernstein campus.

Police said there was a fourth student who overdosed at the park, but her identity is not known.

In the aftermath, top city leaders — Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore and schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho — have pledged urgent action as on-the-ground law-enforcement officials bluntly described the massive and dangerous influx of drugs. 

“One pill kills,” said LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza, who oversees the gang and narcotics division, adding that the term “fentanyl-laced” is a weak misnomer. “It is straight up fentanyl. It is not laced with fentanyl… We recovered hundreds, if not thousands, of pills a day; 10,000 pills every other day isn’t unusual” for drugs that are cheap to make and transport and “pushed hard by drug dealers and the cartels.” 

“Tell your children: You can’t tell if drugs contain fentanyl by look, taste, smell or touch,” Garcetti said. “A dealer may be a friend or so-called friend or classmate. They might not even know what substance they’re providing.”

Moore pledged swift justice up the distribution chain. “These were students selling to students,” Moore said, “and we’re looking for the people who are using them solely for their access to this campus.” He said that public awareness — leading to prevention — is the best strategy, but that it also would help to put school police on campus. 

 

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Immigration

FBI warns Venezuelan, other foreign gangs ‘exploiting migratory surge’ at U.S. border

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Venezuelan officials warn that the leader of the Tren de Aragua gang escaped from prison last year and could be hiding in the United States. The Venezuelan gang is exploiting the migratory surge at the United States border, and the FBI warns it is likely making alliances with the violent Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

According to veteran FBI agent John Morales, a special agent in charge of the El Paso division in Texas, amidst the growing violence in the United States, MS-13 and other dangerous gangs could form a temporary alliance.

“Although these gangs normally do not mix, it will always be a concern as the [Tren de Aragua] band grows stronger and establishes a foothold,” Morales explained. “At this moment, we are working with our local law enforcement partners and sharing intelligence to stop the growth of the Tren de Aragua.”

Members of these two criminal groups have been detected in U.S. cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Chicago, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Immigration officials say that criminals are illegally remaining in the U.S. after they are released from immigration detention centers, committing violent crimes, including murders.

Between October 2022 and September 2023, Border Patrol agents detained 41 members of the Tren de Aragua along the southern border, and now FBI agents are asking Venezuelan migrants to report gang members in exchange for witness protection and temporary visas.

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