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Saturday, February 26, 2022

Commerce City, Colorado: Five Dead In Apartment Likely Overdosed On Fentanyl, DA Says

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Prosecutor says victims were ingesting cocaine that they did not know was laced with the powerful opioid

Commerce City police Chief Clint Nichols addresses the media to discuss the ongoing investigation of five deaths in an apartment at the North Range Crossings apartment complex at 14480 E. 104th Ave on Feb. 20, 2022 in Commerce City.

The five people who died inside a Commerce City apartment over the weekend likely overdosed unintentionally on fentanyl, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason said Monday.

Preliminary testing and other evidence suggest the five victims believed they were ingesting cocaine Sunday and did not realize the drug had been laced with fentanyl, Mason said. All five likely died almost instantly, he said.

The five deaths come as Colorado’s fentanyl overdose crisis continues to worsen and policymakers scramble to address the deadly opioid. An average of two Coloradans died of fentanyl overdoses every day in the first nine months of 2021, state data shows.

“No drug is safe,” Mason said. “Because any drug could literally have fentanyl in it without the user knowing. We’re finding it in cocaine, we’re finding it in heroin, we’re finding it meth. In limited cases, we’re even seeing it with marijuana.”

Commerce City police found the bodies of three women and two men around 3:45 p.m. Sunday inside a home at the North Range Crossings Apartments at 14480 E. 104th Ave. A 29-year-old woman and a 4-month-old infant were in the apartment but survived, Commerce City police Chief Clint Nichols said Sunday night.

The victims have not been publicly identified, but the women who died were ages 28, 29 and 32, police said, and the men were ages 32 and 24.

Mason warned that the tainted batch of drugs could still be circulating in the community.

“It is the nightmare scenario of the dangers of fentanyl,” he said. “…There are other people out there who might have drugs from that same batch or have drugs from the same dealer who could take those drugs tonight. And we have more deaths. It’s a terrifying public health, public safety crisis.”

Commerce City police are heading up the investigation into the deaths, along with the North Metro Drug Task Force and the district attorney’s office, Mason said. He declined to speculate on whether charges would be filed against the person who provided the drugs to the five victims.

Police said in a news release Monday that they were “aggressively pursuing leads” with plans to “vigorously pursue charges.”

“Obviously an investigation of this nature is very complicated,” Mason said. “There are five folks who are dead. We can’t interview them, ask them where the drugs came from, and that makes these cases very challenging. And quite honestly, the drug cartels know that when they are distributing these drugs.”

Mason said it was “miraculous” that one person survived the incident. He declined to say whether the survivor also ingested the tainted drugs, but said the person was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

Addiction resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration runs a 24/7 hotline to help connect people to addiction services: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). People with substance use or mental health disorders can also contact Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.

Opioid overdoses, including fentanyl overdoses, can be reversed with naloxone, an over-the-counter nasal spray available at most pharmacies. 

Colorado nonprofits like Access Point Colorado (303-837-1501) and the Harm Reduction Action Center (303-572-7800) offer supplies like naloxone and fentanyl test strips. For a map of pharmacies that provide naloxone, check

Denver residents can request fentanyl testing strips and naloxone from the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment via an online form.

Signs of an overdose include:
— Small pupils that look like a pinpoint
— Loss of consciousness
— Slow and shallow breathing
— Choking or gurgling sounds
— A limp body
— Pale, blue or cold skin

A next-door neighbor to the apartment, Ian Scott, told The Denver Post he was alerted to the deaths by the screams of a distraught woman who appeared high Sunday afternoon. Both the adult and the baby are expected to survive; it’s unclear if the baby’s parents were among the dead.

Fentanyl has been surging in Colorado for the last two years, Mason said, as drugmakers use the cheaper, more addictive option to boost their profits.

Preliminary data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that at least 767 people died of fentanyl overdoses in 2021, though deaths in the last three months are still being counted and the final number will be higher.

Approximately half of the 1,581 Colorado drug overdose deaths last year that have been recorded thus far involved fentanyl, the provisional data shows. Of those 1,581 people, 618 died of methamphetamine, 227 died of cocaine, 167 died of heroin and 55 of alcohol.

Even without full data for the last three months, the 2021 death toll is a 42% increase from the 540 deaths recorded in 2020. Colorado’s age-adjusted rate of fentanyl overdoses has increased fivefold from the rate of 1.7 per 100,000 people recorded in 2018 to 9.29 in 2020.

Final 2021 mortality data will be available in May, Kirk Bol, manager of CDPHE’s Vital Statistics Program, said in an email.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said Monday that the deaths in Commerce City show prosecutors and investigators need more resources in order to better address surging fentanyl use. He and Mason in December called for harsher penalties for people who sell fentanyl, and Weiser reiterated that stance, calling on lawmakers to create either a new charge or a sentence enhancer for people who sell drugs that result in the customer’s death.

Typically, the charge of distributing drugs resulting in death is easier to prove in court than a murder count, he said, though the specific elements and penalties would depend on how changes to the law are written. Weiser said he expects to see such a bill introduced this year.

“When you distribute drugs and it results in someone’s death and you are, essentially, on notice that you could be doing this, it’s not the same as when you distribute drugs and someone is feeding their addiction,” he said, adding that he does not want to see increased criminal penalties for people suffering from addiction.

It’s rare but not unheard of for drug dealers in Colorado to be charged with murder in connection to overdose deaths. In December 2020, a 25-year-old Aurora man was charged with first-degree murder after he was accused of knowingly giving fentanyl to a 16-year-old girl who then overdosed and died. That case is pending trial.

Another pending case is that of a 21-year-old Boulder County man who was charged with manslaughter in December after authorities there said he sold pills laced with fentanyl that resulted in a woman’s fatal overdose, Boulder’s Daily Camera newspaper reported.

And in 2014, a Centennial woman linked to four fatal overdoses was charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 overdose death of 21-year-old Carter Higdon. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Denver Post


  1. is always the kids that suffer. Trauma ensues

    1. Stats showed that approximately 100,000 died to overdoses and Fent laced drugs, for the year 2021.
      Thanks to China for percorser chemicals shipped to Mexico.

      Thanks to Mexico drugs labs adding Fent, without checking with customers.

      Thanks to Obrador for letting the Cartels run rampant and no law and order.

  2. I’m sorry but are we suppose to feel bad for drug users ?

    1. I do... I feel sorry for people who suffer whether it be from drugs or anything else.I don't recall though whether you we're asked to care and can't understand why you said "We'...Speak for yourself because now you sound like a follower.

    2. Mid story they talk about a baby found alive. This is what I mean by the children suffer and trauma ensues

  3. This could be a whole new boom for USA's prison industry. New fentanyl laws could bring back mandatory 20 year sentences, just like what crack did for so many lost kids in the 80's & 90's. But of course we need something done, like maybe easily available fentanyl test kits for street dealers to know exactly WHAT they're actually selling. Cartel wont tell, only kill with the smell of indifference.

    1. Great! Now we are delegating drug pushers to test their illegal narcotics prior to sale. Why not the FDA if that's the case.
      Drug consumption problems will not simply go away due to new stricter sentencing guidelines. Treatment from both the public health sectors along with pharmaceutical companies who profit and regulate prescription prices. Feeding the prison systems is not the solution.

  4. Publicity of St. George Floyd, the felon patron saint of Fentanyl, has fueled its use in the USA. Kids want to grow up to have a drug-marinated body that attacks and threatens to kill women and their unborn children.

    1. Facts
      . Sir I would buy you a beer for this very accurate comment

    2. You can't reply to your own comment Juanita..or can you? Lol

  5. Does anyone know if Matty is still running the show at Shotgun Willies ?
    Dudes a bad ass ! Legendary !


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