EVERETT, Wash. — Seven inmates of the Snohomish County Jail were taken to the hospital for suspected fentanyl overdoses Wednesday night, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office (SCSO).
A corrections officer noticed an inmate behaving strangely around 7:35 p.m. Wednesday night, according to SCSO. They then began to notice other inmates in the same module behaving in a similar manner which they believed to be a symptom of a fentanyl overdose.
Jail medical staff responded and administered multiple doses of Narcan to a total of seven inmates, according to SCSO. The doses are believed to have saved the inmates' lives, and all seven are expected to recover.
Four have already been discharged from the hospital and will be re-booked into the jail.
The 37-year-old Arlington inmate charged with possession of a controlled substance and introducing contraband into a correctional facility was not one of the inmates taken to the hospital.
“We can all drive around our streets and see the fentanyl epidemic firsthand,” said Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.
Fortney said fentanyl is everywhere. The prices have dropped and there is more supply.
“This was not a detox facility by any means, this was general population," Fortney said.
In March, two incarcerated people died from fentanyl overdoses in the Thurston County Jail. Fortney believes it was deputies' quick action that saved inmates in the Snohomish County Jail.
“We have more work to do, I’ll acknowledge that as the sheriff, but I am so proud of our corrections bureau, I am so proud of that corrections deputy,” said Fortney.
Major Alonzo Downing with the Snohomish County Corrections Bureau said in addition to the Narcan, deputies have masks to prevent being exposed to fentanyl, “Every day that we suit up and come inside these walls, that concern exists.”
In probable cause documents, detectives found powdery white fentanyl on torn pieces of legal paper in the suspect’s cell.
“We’re trying everything and anything we can. Just in 2021, we bought a $250,000 body scanner. Anyone who comes into our facility is getting the body scanner applied to them, but this fentanyl is a game changer,” said Fortney.
While detectives found fentanyl on pieces of legal paper, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said there’s nothing to suggest the drug came into the jail in that manner. How it got into the jail is still under investigation.
Due to the number of patients involved, the incident was upgraded to a multiple casualty incident and South County Fire, Mukilteo Firefighters, Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue, Marysville Fire District and Northwest Ambulance also responded to the scene.
In total, 23 fire and EMS units responded to the scene.
The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation into how fentanyl got into the jail. Charges have been referred on one inmate for possession of a controlled substance inside a correctional facility.
The module where the inmates were located is on lockdown. The entire jail was on lockdown for around an hour when the inmates were first discovered.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Download our free KING 5 app to stay up-to-date on news stories from across western Washington.