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The Bergen Record

Woman who overdosed at Riverside Mall dies, authorities raise alarm on fentanyl

By Liam Quinn,,


HACKENSACK — Bergen County officials issued a dire warning about the dangers of street drugs after a woman died, nine days after five women overdosed on fentanyl in parking lot of The Shops at Riverside.

At a Friday press conference at Bergen County Plaza, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said mall employee Michelle Edoo, 29, died as a result of the overdose.

"We are here to sound the alarm," Musella said. "The death is due to the fentanyl that is pouring into our communities, killing our friends and killing our family members."

Musella spoke along with Bergen County chief of detectives Jason Love and Hackensack police officer-in-charge Michael Antista.

Responding to an emergency call on March 15, Hackensack police found the women displaying overdose symptoms in the parking garage, and responders "immediately took lifesaving measures, which included administering Narcan and performing CPR," officials said at the time. Antista credited two good Samaritans with performing CPR after witnessing the overdoses.

Narcan was administered to all, officials said. Four of the five women, ranging in age from 29 to 41, were taken to a local hospital, and one refused.

On Friday, Musella said that in the death of Edoo, fentanyl had been mixed in with cocaine. He also confirmed that the drug has been mixed in with opioids and other pills, along with heroin in Bergen County.

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"Across the country [fentanyl] has been found in every type of drug on the street," Musella said. "You have to assume that any drug, whether in powder, pill or vegetation that is bought on the street or that is shared on the street contains fentanyl and it can kill you."

The presence of fentanyl has been rapidly increasing over the past seven years, county officials said. According to data shared at the press conference, heroin tested by the county in 2022 contained 98% fentanyl, a number that has increased exponentially since 2015, when that number was between 4 and 8%.

"There has never been a more risky time in our society for people who take illicit drugs," Love said.

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The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office entered a joint narcotics investigation with the Hackensack Police Department on March 20, five days after the incident at the Riverside mall.

As a result of the joint investigation, two people have been arrested on narcotics charges, one for distribution and another for possession with intent to distribute. Love said neither has been implicated in Edoo's death, but noted that charges of that nature could result from the still-ongoing investigation.

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