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Arrests made after Medford teen dies of fentanyl overdose

The overdose death of a Medford teen triggered an investigation that led to the interception of thousands of potentially deadly fentanyl pills. [Photo courtesy Medford Police Department]
Alleged drug dealers arrested after 15-year-old’s death

Several men have been arrested after the death of a Medford teen from a fentanyl overdose triggered an investigation into a chain of drug dealing, according to the Medford Police Department.

The investigation began on the Fourth of July when Medford police and a Mercy Flights ambulance responded to the 4000 block of Vista Pointe Drive and found a 15-year-old boy who had overdosed on fentanyl. Paramedics treated him at the scene, but he did not survive, MPD said.

The investigation revealed the boy was given a counterfeit oxycodone pill, which later tested positive for fentanyl. A juvenile family member gave the pill to the boy, MPD said.

“It’s important for people to know fentanyl is being crossed with other drugs and can be extremely lethal. It’s extremely sad. It’s heartbreaking,” said MPD Lt. Mark Cromwell.

Drug dealers are increasingly using fentanyl, a powerful and often deadly drug, to make fake pain pills or to mix with heroin, meth and cocaine. Fentanyl can cause people to stop breathing.

After the boys’ death, a detective with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement unit, also known as MADGE, was assigned to continue the investigation.

The person allegedly responsible for selling the counterfeit pain pill was identified as 21-year-old Tyren Wohosky of Medford, MPD said.

He is also known as Tyren Lokai Michael Duarte, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

A search warrant was served at Wohosky’s home and a gun and approximately 50 fentanyl pills were seized. Wohosky was arrested and lodged at the Jackson County Jail, MPD said.

Detectives continued the investigation and determined 18-year-old George William Solomon IV allegedly sold Wohosky the fentanyl pills that caused the death of the 15-year-old boy, according to MPD and court records.

On July 20, detectives arrested Solomon in a Panda Express parking lot along Center Drive in Medford. He allegedly admitted to buying a large amount of fentanyl pills and breaking them down into smaller amounts to sell, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police found over 1,000 fentanyl pills, MPD said.

Detectives continued tracking the supply of drugs, and on Aug. 2 arrested Luis Meza-Avila, 28, in the parking lot of a Subway sandwich shop off Center Drive, according to MPD and a probable cause affidavit.

Poilice said he was carrying a black bag that contained 10,000 fake blue pain pills that tested positive for fentanyl. The pills were divided into 10 clear plastic bags containing 1,000 pills each, according to the affidavit.

“MADGE put an extraordinary amount of time into this investigation — 10,000 pills is a lot to take off the streets,” Cromwell said.

He said MADGE is taking large amounts of dangerous drugs out of circulation through its investigations.

“It’s so beneficial to the community,” Cromwell said.

Meza-Avila allegedly admitted to transporting the pills from San Diego to Medford for $2,500. The pills came from Mexico, according to the affidavit.

Cases against the men accused of dealing fentanyl are pending in Jackson County Circuit Court. The cases have also been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Medford for possible federal prosecution, according to MPD.

Meza-Avila, also known as Luis Leonel Meza, has entered pleas of not guilty to charges of unlawful possession, delivery and manufacture of a controlled substance, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

Wohosky, aka Duarte, entered pleas of not guilty to charges of delivery of a controlled substance to a minor, attempted delivery of a controlled substance to a minor, delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of manufacturing a controlled substance and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, court records show.

Solomon entered pleas of not guilty on two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of manufacturing a controlled substance, according to court records.

Over the past two years, MPD said, officers have responded to an increase in overdoses, especially from heroin and fentanyl.

For information on getting help with drug or alcohol use and to find local treatment resources, see oregonrecoverynetwork.org.

The proliferation of fentanyl in counterfeit pills has prompted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to launch a “One Pill Can Kill” campaign that warns against taking any unknown pill, even from friends or family. Counterfeit pills often come stamped with a pharmaceutical company’s logo and are indistinguishable from prescription pills.

Counterfeit pills can be sold in person or online, including through social media. They can mimic pills to treat pain, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions.

Fentanyl-laced pills are made with chemicals bought from foreign countries. Drug trafficking organizations can make massive profits without the expense or hassle of growing opium poppies to make heroin, for example.

For information on getting a free overdose antidote kit, see maxsmission.org. The kits include an easy-to-use nasal spray that combats overdoses from opioids, which include fentanyl, heroin and pain pills like oxycodone.

Because of fentanyl’s potency, reversing an overdose can take multiple deliveries of antidote, and immediate medical attention is still required. The person can slip back into an overdose and die. Call 911 immediately if you suspect someone is overdosing.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.