ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The St. Cloud Police Department is reporting a significant increase in the number of deaths from the drug fentanyl in 2022.

As of December 29th, there were 19 overdose deaths in St. Cloud, 16 of which were from fentanyl. The police department says one of those deaths was a two-year-old child that accidentally ate the drug.

There were 14 overdose deaths in 2021 and eight in 2020.

Fentanyl is extremely dangerous due to its high potency.

Drug dealers intentionally mix it with other drugs as a way to increase their profits. However, authorities say it often leads to overdoses and death because people don't know they are ingesting it.

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The Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force says there has been an increase in the availability of fentanyl in our community and is asking parents to educate their teenagers and young adults about the dangers associated with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is most commonly found in blue pills called "Perc 30's" or in powder form. The pills are typically crushed and then smoked.

If you discover the pills or the powder, never touch or handle the substance, and immediately call the police department.

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