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Baton Rouge's overdose deaths on track to match last year's extraordinarily high numbers

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BATON ROUGE - Overdose deaths in Baton Rouge are on pace to come close to last year's high number of 296. To date, there have been 181 people who died from drug overdoses, and the coroner's office believes we're in for another bad year.

In 2021, the parish saw a record of 311 fentanyl deaths.

Brian Keelen knows all too well what can happen when fentanyl-laced drugs get into the wrong hands.

"My baby brother was doing fentanyl," Keelen said. "It was like a regular drug, almost lost him. That's why I can't stand it, hurts me right now every time I see it and see someone that's been through it. It's a killer. It's a walking, killing drug."

Keelen is a survivor himself. He was shot multiple times in a shooting in the 90s. He was hit in the head and body. He turned his life around and is now concerned for the younger generations.

"They really don't know what they are getting," Keelen said. "You can't see it. You can't see if someone wants to roll you a marijuana joint. You don't know what you are smoking."

This summer, the WBRZ Investigative Unit took an in-depth look at the problem impacting our community. It's a problem that impacts people from all walks of life and income levels. So far, 127 of the deaths have been attributed to fentanyl. At least 32 of those are pending toxicology results.

"It's hard when you are trying to tackle something like this," Keelen said. "It's everywhere. You have to start from the head. When I say the head... where is this coming in? If that's where it's coming in, that's where you stop it at."

The coroner's office said currently they are also seeing realistic-looking counterfeit pressed pills. The State Police Drug ID section is finding that in narcotics seizures.


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