National Fentanyl Awareness Day-May 9, 2023

In recognition of National Fentanyl Awareness Day on May 9, 2023, every law enforcement agency in Ventura County along with the District Attorney and Probation Agency have combined resources, personnel, and the desire to end senseless deaths caused by overdose and addiction. This has led to the creation of the Ventura County Fentanyl and Overdose Crimes Units - VC FOCUS. We are working in unison to stop the supply chain of drugs into our communities and bring justice to the proprietors of death through criminal prosecution.

The fentanyl crisis has affected all corners of the United States to include public figures such as professional athletes, musicians, actors, and tens of thousands of regular citizens in all walks of life. Despite collaborative countermeasures, we have also seen a continuous increase in both fatal and non-fatal fentanyl overdoses in Ventura County. Our county has experienced an increase in fentanyl related overdose deaths from 87 in 2020, to 181 in 2022.

VC FOCUS is a new task force made up of detectives from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County District Attorney Office of Investigation, Simi Valley Police Department, Ventura Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Thousand Oaks Police Department along with involvement from the Oxnard Police Department, Santa Paula Police Department, Port Hueneme Police Department, Ventura County Probation Agency, California State University Channel Islands Police Department, Ventura County Community College Police Department, and a full time prosecutor from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. Numerous other State and Federal law enforcement agencies will soon be embedded with VC FOCUS. The executive leadership of each agency recognizes the impact fentanyl has on our local communities, realizes the future impact on Ventura County, and is committed to this task force.

The primary mission of VC FOCUS is to combat fentanyl related crimes and opioid overdoses by targeting the supply chain of individuals and criminal organizations responsible for the sales of these drugs into Ventura County. In addition, the task force works to identify current trends of abuse among the younger population and educate the community on the lethal danger of this epidemic. The task force is divided into two distinct teams investigating cases in the east and west sides of the county.

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as an analgesic (pain relief) and anesthetic. It is approximately one hundred times more potent than morphine and fifty times more potent than heroin. Unfortunately, it is highly addictive and extremely deadly when used in its illicit forms. Chemicals involved in producing illicit fentanyl are being mass produced overseas and imported into the United States through organized crime syndicates and cartels. Ventura County law enforcement is regularly seizing fentanyl in bulk and in pill form in the county.

While stopping drugs from entering Ventura County is a major component in our strategic plan, this crisis will not be solved through arrest and prosecution alone. The solution includes education, treatment, and recommitting to healthy drug-free communities. VC FOCUS detectives along with law enforcement executives are regularly meeting with stakeholders throughout Ventura County to collaborate and share information.

VC FOCUS has partnered with Ventura County Behavioral Health as an active member of the County Opioid Abuse Suppression Taskforce (COAST) in a campaign to reduce overdoses and educate the public about the dangers of opioids and other drugs. Comprehensive information can be found at

The public may contact investigators from VC FOCUS at (805) 383-8700 or with additional information about fentanyl, or any other information related to narcotics.

Nature of Incident: National Fentanyl Awareness Day- May 9, 2023
Location: County of Ventura
Date & Time: May 9, 2023
Prepared by: Sergeant John Hajducko
Media Follow-Up Contact: Sergeant John Hajducko-
Sergeant Robert Davidson-
Approved by: Captain Brian Slominski