A toddler in Michigan died after ingesting an “extraordinary level” of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far more potent than heroin, authorities say.
Antonio Floyd, 28, and Shantanice Barksdale, 27, were charged Monday with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree child abuse, and delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance, among other charges.
“The nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic. However, to see an infant experience such a tragic death on Christmas morning as a result of ingesting a large quantity of her parents' Fentanyl is truly gut-wrenching,” Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith said in a news release.
Smith was not available to comment Tuesday. But he told the Detroit Free Press that investigators think the child overdosed after drinking something containing the drug and that an autopsy showed she had ingested the highest dose of fentanyl officials have seen in Macomb County (which has a population of 871,000). Smith said the autopsy showed the child had ingested up to 15 times as much fentanyl as officials have seen in recent overdose deaths in the county.
The prosecutor’s office said the couple and their three children were at home on Christmas morning and later went to the children’s grandmother’s home. A short time later, Ava was found unresponsive. She died at a hospital on Christmas afternoon.
Smith told the Free Press that officers found scales, grinders, baggies, guns and drug residue inside the couple’s home. Officials also searched the children’s grandmother’s home, although it’s unclear whether they found anything. The grandmother isn’t facing charges.
Floyd and Barksdale are being held without bond. It was not immediately clear whether they have attorneys. Floyd, who has a felony record, is facing additional firearms charges.
Fentanyl fueled a significant increase in overdose deaths in the county, as reported by local media outlets that cited a 2017 report by the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office. Fentanyl-related deaths rose by nearly 40 percent, from 144 in 2016 to 199 in 2017.
Fentanyl-related deaths nationwide have increased significantly over the past several years: a 264 percent jump from 2012 to 2015. In Macomb County, the number of fentanyl-related deaths went from zero in 2011 to 144 in 2016, according to the county’s health department.
Fentanyl is up to 100 times as powerful as morphine and is far deadlier than heroin. It is often added to heroin to increase its potency. Two milligrams of fentanyl is fatal for most adults.