Seanna Leilani Chavez, the sister of Aaron Francisco Chavez, pauses as she looks at family photos as she stands next to a shrine for Aaron, including images of Aaron on the wall, at the family home Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. Aaron Chavez died of a fentanyl overdose at the age of 19. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Fentanyl deaths from 'Mexican oxy' pills hit Arizona hard

February 14, 2019 - 12:10 am

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Illicit fentanyl smuggled from Mexico into the Southwest has become a profitable new business for drug gangs, helping push the synthetic opioid to the top spot for fatal U.S. overdoses.

Fentanyl powder and sky blue pills known as "Mexican oxy" are being distributed around the U.S. as the drug surpasses heroin for overdose deaths.

But some stays behind in Arizona and other southwestern states, making the region bordering Mexico a hot spot in the nation's fentanyl crisis and affecting all demographic groups.

Among those killed by the fentanyl pills was Aaron Francisco Chavez, a 19-year-old from Tucson who was a prep cook and dreamed of become a chef to support his young daughter.

He died after taking at least one pill at a Halloween party.

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