NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY-August 21, 2023
SAN DIEGO- The U.S. Attorney's Office, San Diego City Attorney's Office and the non-profit MESA (Mentoring and Empowering Student Athletes) Foundation today launched a social media campaign featuring all of the members of the 2023-2024 San Diego State University's men's basketball team – including several who played in the 2023 NCAA national championship game - to promote fentanyl awareness and prevention.
This unique partnership, believed to be the first of its kind between a Name/Image/Likeness (NIL) collective and the Department of Justice, features the student-athletes describing the dangers of fentanyl and the need to be aware of locations to obtain Narcan in the community. Narcan is a medicine that rapidly reverses the effects of opioids to prevent fatal overdoses. The release includes the hashtags #BlockFentanyl and #KnowAboutNarcan. The two social media PSAs can be found here:
In the public service announcements, athletes look at the camera and say: "Fentanyl kills. Creates chaos. Ruins families. It doesn't care about your race. It doesn't care how you identify. It doesn't care if you are addicted or just trying for the first time. Fentanyl kills. That's 70,000 brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers lost last year. That Adderall, Percocet, Xanax, ecstasy you are offered - it likely contains fentanyl. That cocaine you would just try - it likely contains fentanyl. We need to help each other. Know where Narcan is. Watch for friends making strange sounds while sleeping at parties or turning blue. Call for help if in doubt. Be a good teammate, and let's save lives."
The campaign - timed to highlight National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day (August 21, 2023) - is being deployed over Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Snapchat, LinkedIn, and YouTube by the student-athletes, the MESA Foundation, the Department of Justice, and other coalition members.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and law enforcement partners have attacked the fentanyl crises through aggressive prosecutions at every level of the supply chain – from the Sinaloa Cartel leadership, to cross-border trafficking organizations, to money launderers, to street level dealers who are selling drugs that result in overdose deaths.
The "Block Fentanyl" campaign is just one aspect of the U.S. Attorney's Office's prevention and outreach strategy. For example, on August 10, 2023, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the City Attorney's Office gave a presentation at San Diego State University to resident advisors and student leaders on the topic "Know Fentanyl." The presentation, attended by approximately 250 students, covered the dangers of counterfeit and adulterated pills and powder, recognizing the signs of an overdose, and how to properly deploy Narcan.
"We are committed to innovative approaches to protect and educate the youth of our community about the extreme danger of fentanyl," said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Haden. "We are willing to do whatever it takes to save lives and spread the word that fentanyl is still claiming many lives, and every one of us can and must take action to prevent fatal overdoses. I'd like to thank the incredible SDSU student-athletes, who did not hesitate to answer our call for help. They have graciously used their celebrity and influence for the most important cause: Keeping fellow students from making a fatal mistake with fentanyl."
"As the City's Prosecutor and the mother of two teenagers, I am extremely proud to participate in a campaign that informs our youth about the risks associated with fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid. Unbeknownst to most, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Its availability has so increased that it's now the number one killer in the nation for those between the ages of 18-and-45. We must ensure the truth about fentanyl reaches susceptible children and young adults before the drug does," said San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. "I would like to thank Deputy City Attorney Mark Robertson for his important work representing my Office on the Opioid Task Force and for assisting with the creation of these powerful commercials."
The MESA Foundation, established in 2022 after the NCAA began allowing student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their NIL, connects Aztec student-athletes with nonprofits in the San Diego community in a variety of different capacities. The student-athlete receives a stipend for partnering with the charity through their Name, Image and Likeness.
More information about the MESA Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, can be found here:
Additional fentanyl prevention resources can be found at San Diego County's Community & Parent Toolkits which are available in both English and Spanish: https://www.sdpdatf.org/community-parent-fentanyl-toolkit.
Both offices would like to thank Isabelle Sandmeyer, and her company Studio Isla, for donating her time and talent to the "Block Fentanyl" project.
Assistant U. S. Attorneys Dylan Aste (619) 546-7621 and Adam Gordon (619) 546-6720, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney/Deputy City Attorney Mark Robertson (619) 533-5500
Updated August 21, 2023