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Combating the Fentanyl Crisis: Watch the full Town Hall meeting

News Channel 3 is spotlighting the challenges and solutions surrounding the fentanyl crisis in Coachella Valley. You can watch a Town Hall meeting moderated by anchor Karen Devine on Saturday, March 30 at 9 a.m. on KESQ News Channel 3.

The Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley held a town hall meeting earlier this month, "Combating the Fentanyl Crisis." The event was hosted by our Anchor, Karen Devine. 

Multiple panelists including professionals in healthcare, education, and law enforcement spoke at the town hall. They all shared the work they’ve been doing to ‘Combat the Fentanyl Crisis’ throughout the Coachella Valley. 

"She was seeking Percocet, the drug dealer ended up selling her counterfeit oxycodone pills, of which she took half of one before going to bed. And it killed her instantly," said Matt Capelouto, who lost his daughter Alexandra to fentanyl poisoning.

Another parent who lost their child to fentanyl, Jennifer Loza recalled how her son passed away. "Steven was with three friends, and I use the term lightly. But they literally sat and watched him die. They did. They had Narcan. They had phones. They had a parent in the main house and they did nothing to intervene to try to save him," said Loza.

Parents like Jennifer Loza and Matt Capelouto shared the stories of their children’s fentanyl-related deaths in an effort to save lives. 

"We want to educate today and let them know that there are people behind the scenes really fighting hard to try to get control of this crisis," said Karen Devine.

Some of the folks fighting the fentanyl crisis throughout the Coachella Valley include Senior Deputy District Attorney with Riverside County District Attorney's office, Gerald Pfohl. He was the first to secure a guilty verdict by a jury in a fentanyl-related homicide both on a state and federal level. 

"Since then, not only have we seen aggressive work by our sheriff's department, our local law enforcement, but frankly, we're seeing fentanyl dealers who are texting people. I'm not selling that they're prosecuting people for murder.

Together these community leaders and advocates are working to reduce the number of fentanyl deaths.

"'I'm here to garner support for a ballot measure the homelessness, drug addiction and theft reduction act. It's a measure we're trying to get on the November ballot. So I'm here to promote that. One of the components of this ballot measure is something called Alexandra's law," said Capelouto.

He says the burden of proof in a fentanyl-related murder case is difficult.

"Alexandra's law is simply a warning to all dealers. If they're arrested for a fentanyl related offense, they're going to get a warning, letting them know that if they continue furnishing fentanyl, and it results in somebody's death, that they can be held accountable for murder," added Capelouto.

Alexandra’s law was named after Matt Capelouto's daughter who died of fentanyl poisoning back in 2019. 

Thursday’s town hall was aired in its entirety on Sunday, March 24th at 5 p.m. You can watch it broadcast again on Saturday, March 30, at 9 a.m. on KESQ News Channel 3.

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Bianca Ventura

Bianca Ventura joined KESQ News Channel 3 as a reporter in February 2022.


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