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Cocaine making a deadly comeback in Florida, according to drug officials

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jan 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-02 17:34:41-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — It was a popular drug in the 80s, but cocaine is making a comeback with a deadly twist.

Cocaine is killing more people in Florida more than any other drug.

The reason? It's being laced with fentanyl.

Many families are still feeling the painful effects of the opioid epidemic in Palm Beach County.

"For the family to be left behind with all the regret and the shoulda, coulda, wouldas, and what if I would have and if I had known this, for me that’s the biggest thing," said Jackie Ranaldo of Abacoa.

Ranaldo lost her brother on the second day of 2018. Matthew Fousteris struggled with a opioid addiction. What killed him was heroin laced with fentanyl.

"It takes one time; the one wrong time and too much of something for it to go wrong," said Ranaldo.

Now an old drug is looking to take the place of opioids, emerging with a killer ingredient.

"You start addressing one issue and another one pops up," said Jeff Kadel, Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition.

Cocaine-related deaths have more than doubled in the state since 2015, according to the Florida Medical Examiner's Commission Drug Report. The drug is being cut with fentanyl.

"Those casual users are overdosing not knowing why," said Kadel.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says cocaine production is up and distribution is starting to fully impact South Florida.

"This could happen to anyone at any time taking anything," said Ranaldo.

Ranaldo is fundraising for The Hanley Foundation in memory of her brother to provide treatment scholarships to those who need help. She said it's a way to make sure other families get the chance to say the words she never got to say to her brother.

"I would say no matter what you can get through this. We could do this together," Ranaldo said.