Looking at a large frame with various pictures of her son, Kira Moore-Rendon remembered Jacob Rendon, who died of a fentanyl overdose.

They lost their big brother, and they lost their coach, they lost.a person they expected to have for them, she said about his siblings.

Jacob was only 24 years old when he overdosed on September 12, 2021 after struggling with using opioids. He had been working through a substance use disorder and went to several rehab and detox facilities. He had overdosed at least twice before his death.

Its reaching all factions, all people all ages, Moore-Rendon said.

Rendon described her son as having a big heart and someone that would always help, recalling a time that he helped save his co-workers life.

Since his death, Moore-Rendon has created an annual walk in honor of lives lost to opioids. It takes place on August 31, the day that is honored as International Overdose Awareness Day.

The Pima County Medical Examiners Office says in 2021, there were 329 deaths involving fentanyl. In 2022 that number went up to 332 and in 2023 so far it went down to 282. They say 2023s data is still coming in so the deaths will probably be higher.

For all three of those years the most deaths occurred in people 30 to 39 years old.

The Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Greg Hess said they started seeing a gradual increase in fentanyl deaths in 2014 but in 2019 they saw a sharper increase. He said the most common way they consume fentanyl is by smoking the vapor with a straw.

When we start seeing those numbers go down, I would say then somethings working, Moore-Rendon said.

She said bills like Senator Mark Kellys Stop Fentanyl at the Border Act, which he introduced earlier this week, is a step in the right direction.

It would increase technology to find drugs being smuggled through border ports of entry. It would also make an inspection program to increase the seizure of firearms.

We definitely need to up our technologies, up our border patrol, knowing what were looking for, Moore-Rendon commented.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in fiscal year 2022, the Tucson Field Office and Tucson Sector seized about 2800 more pounds of fentanyl than fiscal year 2021. In fiscal year 2023 they say they seized about 7400 more pounds than fiscal year 2022. Already in the first two months of fiscal year 2024, they say there has been about two thousand pounds seized.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says in 2023, it was the highest amount of fentanyl that was seized in a single year.

The DEA Phoenix Field Division says Arizona has become the main transportation point for fentanyl coming into the U.S.

Last month independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored three bills that would fight fentanyl by expanding peoples access to drug testing strips. One of those bills was sponsored by a Republican.

Moore-Rendon said she appreciates the bills, but would like to see more lawmakers address curriculum in the classroom that educates students about the dangers of fentanyl.

If our children are knowledgable about some of those facts, theyll make healthier choices for themselves, Moore-Rendon said.