(NewsNation) — The Los Angeles area is on high alert after at least seven teenagers overdosed on pills likely laced with fentanyl over the past month, including a 15-year-old girl named Melanie Ramos who died on a high school campus, authorities said.
She was found unresponsive in a campus bathroom after she and a fellow classmate bought and swallowed what they believed to be the painkiller Percocet.
“A student that was 15 years old, and not having her life? That’s sad,” a student told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Thursday.
Police last week arrested two boys, ages 15 and 16, in connection with her death and other drug sales in the area. The younger boy was held on suspicion of manslaughter, police said.
“These drug dealers are making the fentanyl look like ecstasy pills, you know? So that’s another reason why the kids could be so quick to take them,” one parent told “Rush Hour.”
The suspects knew each other, authorities said, and both attend Apex Academy — an independent charter school that shares a campus with Bernstein.
“By all indications, the overdose — this incident — occurred as this drug was laced with fentanyl unbeknownst to these victims,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore said.
The warnings come at a time when LAPD says its drug task force investigators have seized tens of thousands of pills and pounds of fentanyl from the streets.
“We need to make [our kids] aware of the true dangers that they’re facing with any drug that isn’t from a pharmacy or a dispensary,” said Amanda Faith, who was interviewed by NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Thursday.
Faith lost her 14-year-old son, Luka, to an overdose in 2020 after being sold counterfeit Percocet on Snapchat that ended up being 100% fentanyl.
“Have very honest and open conversations with them [your kids], ask them about their circle — stay involved,” Faith said, listing off advice to other parents.
The news also follows reports that fentanyl overdose is the cause of death for 32-year-old country singer Luke Bell, who was found dead in Tucson last month.
Los Angeles authorities said the investigation does not stop with the arrest of the two teen boys. Police say often young dealers are a cog in the wheel of a much larger operation, being soldiered out into the streets with these drugs. The Los Angeles authorities are to have another news conference on the subject very soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.