Miami boy, 10, dies of mysterious fentanyl overdose, authorities - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Miami boy, 10, dies of mysterious fentanyl overdose, authorities ask for help

Alton Banks, 10, died suddenly after accidentally inhaling or touching fentanyl, authorities say. (Source: Facebook/Shantell Banks) Alton Banks, 10, died suddenly after accidentally inhaling or touching fentanyl, authorities say. (Source: Facebook/Shantell Banks)
The program for Alton's funeral. (Source: Facebook/Shantell Banks) The program for Alton's funeral. (Source: Facebook/Shantell Banks)

(RNN) - A 10-year-old boy in Florida has died from an apparent overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Where he came in contact with the drug is a mystery.

Alton Banks had the synthetic opioid in his body when he collapsed at home on June 23, according to a toxicology report released last Monday.

Fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is one of the many new street drugs that are fueling the opioid crisis that has killed thousands in Florida and tens of thousands more nationwide.

Fentanyl and its even more potent analogues are so strong that inhaling the equivalent of a few grains of salt or having a speck touch your skin can kill a grown man. Alton was a little boy.

Investigators told the Miami Herald that is what they believe happened to Alton.He likely died of a mix of heroin and fentanyl, an increasingly common cocktail sold by dealers around the nation. Authorities said there is no evidence he contacted the drug at home.

The boy began vomiting after coming home from an outing at a neighborhood pool, the Herald reported. That evening, he fell unconscious. Paramedics rushed to his home and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators think he came in contact with it on the streets of Overtown, a neighborhood that is the epicenter of heroin and fentanyl sales in Miami. 

In Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, 31 people have died with heroin fentanyl or both in their systems since 2015, according to a December 2016 story by the Herald. Discarded needles are common along the sidewalks where drug transactions are routine.

Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said authorities don’t know whether he came in contact with the drug at the pool or while he was walking home.

“We’re anxiously hoping that someone that someone comes forward to help us solve this horrific death,” she said. The state attorney's office does not usually release data this early in an investigation, but the hope is the horrific nature of the child's death will spur someone to share information that will explain what happened.

Alton’s mom, Shantell Banks, said her son was a “fun kid” who loved the Carolina Panthers and star quarterback Cam Newton. He wanted to be an engineer when he grew up.

The odds are against finding the person responsible for Alton’s death.

A new law in Florida allows prosecutors to charge dealers with murder if they provide a fatal dose of fentanyl or drugs mixed with fentanyl. But it won’t go into effect until Oct. 1, the Herald reported.

Fentanyl is also available legally in a patch prescribed by doctors.

But the street version that killed Alton and so many others is likely manufactured in illegal labs in China. The drugs are most often delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, which lacks the oversight to check where packages are mailed from, who they are mailed to and other possibly identifiers that could red-flag shipments.

Private delivery services like FedEx and UPS are required to gather the data by a 2002 law that was passed in response to the 9/11 attacks. The Post Office and the Department of Homeland Security were tasked with developing a plan to implement a similar system, but so far, that has not been done.

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