SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) — A new billboard constructed along a Sonoma County road displays a photograph of a young woman being zipped into a body bag. The stark image is part of the Sonoma County District Attorney’s efforts to sound the alarm over the dangers of fentanyl.

“Fentanyl, Sonoma County’s silent killer,” the billboard states.

In 2021, there were 109 fentanyl overdose deaths in Sonoma County. So far in 2022, there have been 63. Consuming the opioid can cause a person’s breathing to slow or stop, which can lead to death.

Some of the deaths in Sonoma County communities resulted from fentanyl being mixed with other illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and counterfeit prescription pills such as Xanax. In some cases, the overdose victim was unaware that what they thought was cocaine or Xanax actually contained fentanyl.

The District Attorney’s Office launched a fentanyl awareness campaign. (Image courtesy SCDAO)

“Fentanyl use is at epidemic proportions in our community. Many overdose on this toxic drug without knowing its presence, and many are battling to overcome opioid addiction,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said Thursday.

The District Attorney’s Office, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, and Drug Enforcement Administration recently launched a joint community outreach campaign through billboards and a new website to educate the community.

Billboards will be displayed throughout the county. The campaign’s One Pill Can Kill website has links for reporting suspected drug dealers in the county and finding treatment resources for those struggling with addiction. Fentanyl is a highly addictive and deadly drug.

“We hope that this outreach effort will help to locate the dealers who are spreading this poison, as well as offer educational resources to families and others about the dangerous nature of the drug,” Ravitch said.