MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida’s opioid epidemic is being blamed for the death of a young boy from Overtown.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is speaking out about this case because investigators need help discovering where 10-year-old Alton Banks apparently came into contact with fentanyl.
“This is a very, very scary time for all of us,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Fentanyl is a powerful legal painkiller — much more powerful than morphine. But the illegal, synthetic versions of the opioid are mainly manufactured in China and have entered the U.S. for the past few years.
It’s led to deaths and overdoses nationwide.
Even breathing in the drug or just getting it on your skin can be lethal.
And it may be responsible for the death of 10-year-old Banks – that’s the preliminary finding of the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
“It appears that he somehow came into contact with a fentanyl and heroin mixture, and if that’s the case, then it’s everyone’s worst nightmare,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Fernandez Rundle said the child was at a neighborhood pool and later that day became seriously ill and died.
Investigators are not sure where he unknowingly came into contact with the drug – at the pool, walking around or somewhere else – but they don’t believe it was at his home.
“The investigators have told us that they feel very confident that it wasn’t inside the house with the family,” Fernandez Rundle said.
His mother is devastated. She told me CBS4’s Carey Codd he wanted to be an engineer and loved the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newtown.
Fernandez Rundle said these deaths from fentanyl or carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer, are becoming all too common as the drugs are placed in heroin and sold on the streets.
She said law enforcement is working hard to stop the import of these drugs and she hopes a new law that goes into effect in October is a deterrent.
“It’s beware out there that if you’re supplying this combination of drugs and it does result in someone’s death, you could be held criminally responsible,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Fernandez Rundle also wants to see every police officer carrying Narcan, an opiate antidote.
For now though, she hopes someone can provide a clue to explain why Banks is one of the youngest victims of this growing epidemic.
“We are sort of grappling for and looking for justice for this family that’s lost this beautiful boy and to make sure that they don’t put other people at risk whether children, adults, whomever,” she said.
Here’s a stat to show just how big a problem this is: the state attorney said the number of deaths from opioids last year outnumbered the amount of homicides in the county.
If you have any information that can help investigators solve this young child’s death, please contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.