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Fairfax County police (file photo)

Fairfax County police are investigating the death of a teenager who experienced a drug overdose while at her home in Seven Corners earlier this week.

Detectives have determined that the girl became unconscious while on a video chat with a friend from an apartment in the 2900 block of John Marshall Drive on Monday (Dec. 4), the Fairfax County Police Department reported today (Wednesday).

“The friend alerted a family member who found the juvenile unresponsive and called 911,” police said.

When officers responded to the scene at 6 p.m., they found that the teen was unconscious and not breathing. She was transported to a hospital, where she died.

The FCPD says detectives “found evidence of narcotic usage nearby.” Major Crimes Bureau and Opioid Investigation Unit detectives are collaborating on the investigation.

The fatal overdose was first reported yesterday by WJLA, which identified the teen as a Justice High School student based on a letter sent to the community by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid.

The FCPD didn’t confirm the teen’s school, since the overdose didn’t occur on school property. FCPS deferred to the police department when asked for comment about the incident.

Earlier this year, the Fairfax County Health Department reported a concerning uptick in overdoses among youth, nearly all of them involving fentanyl. As of Oct. 31, there have been 50 non-fatal opioid overdoses by people 17 and younger, and there were three fatal overdoses in that age group as of June 30, according to the county’s data dashboard.

Last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin directed local schools to notify families about school-related overdoses after Loudoun County reportedly saw 10 non-fatal overdoses between the beginning of the school year in August and November, including eight in three weeks at Park View High School.

In Arlington, two people were charged after a pair of teen girls were hospitalized for drug overdoses at Wakefield High School on Sept. 27.

The FCPD advises families to encourage open communication, awareness and education for both parents and children about the risks of drug use.

Know the Signs: Be aware of the signs of drug use, such as sudden changes in behavior, declining academic performance, changes in friend groups, or unexplained financial difficulties. If you suspect drug involvement, seek professional help immediately.

Secure Medications: Safeguard prescription medications at home, keeping them locked away and out of reach of children and teenagers. Dispose of expired or unused medications properly through safe at-home disposal methods or designated drop-off locations in your community.

Supportive Environment: Foster a healthy and supportive environment within your family and community. Encourage participation in extracurricular activities, hobbies, and sports, providing positive outlets for expression and personal growth.

Community Collaboration: Engage with community organizations, schools, and local law enforcement agencies to collectively address the issue of youth drug usage. Participate in neighborhood watch programs, community events, and initiatives that promote drug prevention, like the Fairfax Prevention Coalition. Share messages from the County’s Opioid Communications Toolkit with your neighbors, family and friends.

Sign up for a virtual training on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and administer naloxone nasal spray to reverse an opioid overdose. After completing the training, individuals 18 and older will receive Narcan, fentanyl test strips and treatment information.

For life-threatening situations, community members should call 911, the FCPD says.

“Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel carry medication that can prevent deaths from opioid overdose,” police said in the news release.

Treatment services are available through the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB). The agency’s entry and referral line can be contacted at 703-383-8500, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The CSB’s emergency services line is available 24 hours a day at 703-573-5679, and the Fairfax Detoxification Center can be reached at 703-502-7000.

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The Fairfax County Police Department collected more than 750 pounds of unused and expired medications this year (courtesy FCPD)

The Reston District Station collected the most unused and expired over-the-counter and prescriptions medications as part of the Fairfax County Police Department’s 25th annual drug-take back day.

The police department’s stations collected 776 pounds as part of the annual event, which is a partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Reston’s drop-off location — which included Reston Hospital Center — raked in 183 pounds, followed by 151 pounds by the West Springfield District. The Fair Oaks District came in third place with 127 pounds overall.

The remaining totals are below:

  • Franconia District: 99
  • McLean District: 72
  • Mason District: 59
  • Mount Vernon District: 43
  • Sully District: 33

“This important initiative addresses vital safety and public health issues,” the FCPD said in a press release. “Unused or expired over the counter or prescription medicine left unsecured can be prone to misuse and may contribute to overdoses and accidental poisonings.”

This year’s totals were far less than last year’s grand total of 1,329 pounds and 2021’s total of 2,038 pounds.

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A Fairfax County Fire and Rescue truck (file photo)

A 17-year veteran of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing drugs stored at two stations for her personal use, police announced today (Friday).

Aleksandra Olegoyna Kazmar, 40, of Front Royal faces one felony charge of obtaining drugs by fraud after investigators determined that she had tampered with or stolen vials of morphine and fentanyl from the Frying Pan and North Point stations, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The FCPD launched a criminal investigation after it was notified of the incidents on Sept. 6 by the fire department, which had already conducted an internal investigation:

On August 1, during a monthly inspection of medication at Fire Station 36, a technician identified a vial of morphine that appeared to be tampered with. The technician observed the volume of the liquid contained within the vial was not consistent with similar vials and there appeared to be a hole in the plastic-controlled substance kit. The technician immediately reported the inconsistencies to his supervisor.

FCFRD began an internal investigation into the tampering of the controlled substance. During the investigation, three additional events were identified where vials of morphine and fentanyl were either tampered with or stolen during the months of August and September. The tampering occurred at Fire Station 36 and 39.

The FCFRD has been assisting with the police investigation, according to the news release.

Kazmar, a relief lieutenant in the fire department, has been placed on administrative leave, police said. She was released from custody on an unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on Oct. 4, Fairfax County General District Court records show.

Fire Station 36 (Frying Pan) is located in Floris at 2660 West Ox Road, and Fire Station 39 (North Point) is at 1117 Reston Avenue in Reston.

Altria Group’s headquarters in Richmond (courtesy Altria Group Inc.)

Fairfax County Public Schools will receive money to support student wellness after settling its portion of a class action lawsuit against the vaping company Juul Labs.

The Fairfax County School Board reached a settlement on Aug. 31 with Altria Group, which owns several tobacco companies — including cigarette maker Philip Morris USA — and has a 35% ownership stake in Juul, FCPS announced on Sept. 19. The news was previously reported by DC News Now.

The school system had already agreed to settlements with the other defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed on July 26, 2022 in California and accused Juul of intentionally marketing its flavored, nicotine-based e-cigarettes to a younger audience, fueling a surge in vaping among teens.

Other D.C.-area school systems involved in litigation against Juul include Loudoun, Prince William, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County, which is using a $2.3 million settlement to combat youth vaping and nicotine addiction, according to the Washington Post.

“We are pleased that there has been an acknowledgment of the potential for harm that these products can cause our students,” School Board chair and Dranesville District representative Elaine Tholen said in a statement. “The settlement will be carefully allocated to support our students’ health and wellbeing.”

According to an FCPS spokesperson, the school system can’t disclose how much money it’ll receive under terms of its settlement agreement, but it will publicly release a plan outlining how the funds will be spent “at a later date.”

FCPS says the funds will be allocated to “student wellness programs across the division.”

Juul didn’t return a request for comment by press time. When contacted by FFXnow, Altria said the FCPS lawsuit was among those addressed in a May announcement that it had agreed to resolve over 6,000 Juul-related cases.

“While we continue to believe the claims against us are meritless, we believe this settlement avoids the uncertainty and expense of a protracted legal process and is in the best interest of our shareholders,” Altria Executive Vice President and general counsel Murray Garnick said. “This settlement brings to a close the vast majority of our pending JUUL-related litigation.”

Launched in 2015, Juul quickly came to dominate the U.S. e-cigarette market by selling flavored pods that became popular among teens, though the company said its products were intended for adult smokers as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.

As of 2022, nearly 85% of underage e-cigarette users reported using flavored products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After the Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation in 2018, Juul halted sales of most of its flavored vapes, and it has since settled thousands of lawsuits from individuals, schools, local and state governments, and Native American tribes.

Virginia is receiving $16.1 million over a decade as part of a settlement agreement from last year that involved more than 30 states. Juul also agreed to pay $462 million in April to six states and D.C. that filed a separate lawsuit.

Vaping is banned in FCPS, which reported in 2020 that an uptick in vaping reversed progress in students being drug-free. The school system recently tested vape detection sensors in some school bathrooms, but Superintendent Michelle Reid told the school board in May that the pilot had “mixed results so far.”

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Highs and Lows snack shop on Richmond Highway (photo by Matt Blitz)

The owner of a local “exotic” snack shop has been arrested as part of a drug ring investigation by county police.

Last week, the Fairfax County Police Department announced it had arrested four individuals related to an investigation into an “extensive drug ring” in the Mount Vernon District.

One of those arrested was Matthew Powers, owner of the snack and collectible shop “Highs & Lows” which has locations on Richmond Highway and in Springfield Town Center. There’s also a shop inside the mall in Pentagon City.

Highs and Lows is advertised as having the “biggest selection of exotic sodas and snacks” in Virginia, with snacks “from all seven continents.”

Powers, who goes by the moniker “Fresh” and calls himself the shop’s “CE-BRO,” appeared over the summer on Fox5DC to promote the shops.

After a months-long investigation, FCPD says it arrested Powers and charged him with six counts of distributing narcotics and two counts of money laundering.

“During the operation, the detectives successfully confiscated a range of illicit substances, including Psilocybin and LSD, along with two firearms,” police said in the Sept. 18 press release. “Additionally, they seized over $138k in cash, discovered several bank accounts, valuable jewelry, and even a Porsche SUV – all believed to be connected to the illegal operations.”

The release notes that the seized narcotics have an estimated “street value” of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Powers is being held on a $10,000 bond.

FFXnow has reached out to FCPD for more details and to see if the stores were involved in any of the alleged illegal activity but didn’t hear back by publication.

As of yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, Highs & Lows on Richmond Highway was closed, and its phone number was disconnected. FFXnow emailed the business for comment but has not heard back either as of publication.

Three others were also arrested along with Powers, all charged with similar crimes. Those three men are in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department ambulance (file photo)

Fairfax County police are investigating a possibly drug-related death after a man allegedly broke into a Springfield house, sans clothes, early this morning (Wednesday).

Officers got a call at 12:30 a.m. for “a nude man acting erratically and forcing entry into a residential home” in the 5700 block of Ash Drive, the Fairfax County Police Department reported in a news release.

“The homeowner reported the unknown man appeared to be under the influence and forced his way into the house,” the FCPD said. “Responding officers found the man inside, lying on the floor, and detained him. No force was used by the officers.”

According to police, the officers rolled the man onto his side and sought medical help from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department personnel “due to his apparent altered state.”

Before medics arrived, though, the man “became unresponsive,” prompting police to administer CPR until he could be transported to the hospital, the FCPD said.

While transporting the man, FCFRD personnel gave him two rounds of Narcan — an emergency medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — but he died at the hospital, according to police.

The incident is now under police investigation. An exact cause of death will be determined by an autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

“All information provided in this release is based on preliminary investigative findings and may be subject to revision as the investigation progresses,” the FCPD said.

Back in June, the police department reported that a 16-year-old boy had died from an apparent opioid overdose in a car parked outside Aldi in Bailey’s Crossroads. However, a subsequent investigation revealed that the teen had actually died from carbon monoxide poisoning, leading his mother to call on the FCPD to correct the public record.

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The Vienna Police Department headquarters (file photo)

The Fairfax County Police Department is hoping to add a detective from the Town of Vienna to its ranks.

Under a reciprocal agreement set to be approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tuesday), the Vienna detective will specifically help investigate drug and vice crimes as part of the larger department’s Organized Crime and Narcotics division.

“These crimes have a substantial and detrimental effect on the health and welfare of our communities and the cooperative effort between the Town of Vienna Police Department and FCPD would be advantageous in disrupting illicit activities,” county staff said in the board agenda.

According to the staff memo, Vienna had provided a detective who worked full-time in the FCPD’s narcotics division since July 1990. However, the partnership got put on hold in 2021 when the Vienna Police Department encountered “staffing constraints.”

Since then, the Vienna department has managed an about-face on those staffing challenges, reducing its vacancies to just one out of 52 positions, as of May.

With the revived reciprocal agreement, the Vienna Police Department will once again assign a detective to work with the FCPD full-time. County officers in the Organized Crime and Narcotics division will also get the authority to enforce drug and vice laws in the Town of Vienna, including by making arrests.

In addition, the Vienna Police Department will be able to claim a portion of the property seized in cases worked by its detective, according to the staff memo.

Sharing of forfeited assets shall be distributed based on the amount of work performed by each detective on any given case as determined by the Commander of OCN. The minimum amount that the Town of Vienna Police Department will receive shall be 5% of all asset sharing requests processed by the Fairfax County Police Department’s OCN. The maximum amount that the Town of Vienna Police Department will receive shall be no more than 70% of all asset sharing requests processed by the FCPD.

While working with the FCPD, the detective will be required to follow county rules, including the Trust Policy that bars county employees from sharing information about an individual’s citizenship or immigration status with federal immigration authorities unless required by law or court order.

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Fairfax County police car lights flashing (file photo)

Drugs have claimed another young life in Fairfax County.

Two 16-year-old boys overdosed on Sunday (June 25) — one of them fatally — in a car parked outside Aldi (5725 Columbia Pike) in Bailey’s Crossroads, the Fairfax County Police Department reported yesterday.

Officers were dispatched to the grocery store’s parking lot at 7:21 p.m. after receiving a call for two individuals found unconscious in a vehicle “with foam coming out their mouths,” according to a dispatcher.

“[The] caller did bang on the window. However, they are not responding,” the dispatcher said.

Emergency medical services personnel with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department were dispatched to the scene around 7:23 p.m., per scanner traffic on Open MHz.

First responders began administering CPR and Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Responders were able to detect a pulse from one of the juveniles after two doses of Narcan, an officer told the dispatcher at 7:28 p.m.

Both juveniles were taken to local hospitals in conditions considered life-threatening. One person later died at the hospital, while the other “remains hospitalized in critical condition,” the FCPD says.

Preliminarily, police believe the overdoses are related to opioids, but that won’t be confirmed until toxicology reports are completed, a department spokesperson told FFXnow.

“The case is still under active investigation,” the spokesperson said.

Fairfax County has seen a surge in opioid overdoses since 2019, particularly among youth and often involving the drug fentanyl.

In the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, there have been 176 non-fatal overdoses so far in 2023, as of May 31, putting the district on track to potentially match or exceed the 304 overdoses reported last year, according to the county’s opioid overdose dashboard.

The dashboard doesn’t include fatal overdose numbers for this year yet, but there were 82 in 2022, down from 111 overdoses in 2021.

“If you feel you may have overdosed or are concerned someone around you has, please call 9-1-1 immediately,” the FCPD said.

According to police, symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • Face is pale or clammy
  • Breathing is infrequent or has stopped
  • Deep snoring or gurgling
  • Unresponsive to any stimuli
  • Slow or no heart rate and/or pulse
  • Bluish purple, or ashen skin color
  • Fingernails turn blue or blue-black

Treatment and recovery services for drug addiction are available through the county at the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s Sharon Bulova Center for Community Health in Merrifield. The center can be contacted at 703-573-5679 for an appointment, and walk-ins are accepted Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Fairfax County Public Schools (file photo)

Fairfax County Public Schools is proposing some notable updates to its student policies.

At last week’s school board meeting, school officials laid out a number of proposed revisions to its Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, including how cases of bullying are handled, what’s interpreted as appropriate clothing, and the potential for increased punishment for substance misuse.

The presentation from FCPS Assistant Auperintendent Michelle Boyd was relatively brief due a planned school board work session next week (May 23), which will likely be spent discussing the proposed dress codes updates, Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch noted.

Essentially, FCPS is looking to update verbiage around the dress code, which was last reviewed in 2016. The update will not include a ban on pajamas that was initially proposed earlier this year but has since been reconsidered.

Proposed language includes the dress code supporting “equitable educational access” while not reinforcing stereotypes or increasing marginalization:

FCPS’ student dress code supports equitable educational access and is written in a manner that does not reinforce stereotypes or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, color, national origin, caste, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, medical condition, household income, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, disability, age, or genetic information.

It also clarifies that the same rules apply “regardless of the student’s age or gender” while providing examples of what isn’t allowed, including clothing that depicts or promotes use of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

Any violation and enforcement of the dress code will continue to be addressed in a “discreet” manner, showing respect to the student, and “minimizes loss of instructional time.”

“Violations of the dress code should generally be treated as minor infractions unless they are repeated or egregious in nature (e.g., streaking, hate speech),” the current code says.

However, this can leave much open to interpretation for school staff and administration. Several school board members noted that some language could be included to ensure a more standardized interpertation across the school system.

“I know we are trying to thread a needle here between what kids recognize as appropriate dress and not,” Springfield District School Board member Laura Jane Cohen said.

Also being proposed is a shift in what happens when there are alleged acts of bullying. The school system is now seeking to require that a principal or staff member notify a parent or guardian of every student involved in an alleged act of bullying within 24 hours of learning about the incident.

The update would also better define that bullying involves a “power imbalance” and what that could look like.

“Examples of a power imbalance include, but are not limited to, greater physical strength or size, access to embarrassing information, or greater popularity or social connectedness,” reads the updated definition.

Also proposed are updated definitions of harassment, hate speech, and hazing, along with potentially more severe punishments. For example, hazing could become a Level 5 infraction, which is the most severe and could result in law enforcement getting involved.

In addition, students with a first-time hate speech infraction would be required to participate in “culturally responsive intervention.”

FCPS is also tweaking its handling of substance misuse in response to recent incidents. While incidents involving alcohol, marijuana, and inhalants customarily result in a two-day suspension, the school principal can decide to levy even more disciplinary action if the conduct has “substantially disrupted the instructional program [or] endangered the well-being of others.”

This could mean a referral to the superintendent and a suspension of up to 10 days. There are number of other changes being asked for, including rewordings and clarity in terms of verbiage, but as Boyd said, those are “relatively minor in nature.”

After next week’s work session, a revised draft is set to be presented to the school board at the end of the month. The school board is expected to vote and adopt the updated students’ rights and responsibilities by the end of June.

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U.S. Attorneys Office in Alexandria (via Google Maps)

An Alexandria man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday (May 10) for selling fentanyl to a woman who died from an overdose in Clifton in 2021.

Reza Hashemi, 34, was sentenced for conspiring to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl in Northern Virginia between July 2020 and June 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release announcing the judgment by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

According to court documents, Fairfax County police were called to a home in the Clifton area on May 28, 2021 by a witness who told 911 that a woman had taken an “unknown white substance” and needed naloxone, the drug that can reverse opioid overdoses.

A woman identified as J.F. was found unresponsive in the residence’s basement and pronounced deceased at 11:44 p.m. after failed resusitation efforts, one of the responding police officers said in an affidavit.

The witness told police that they had obtained powder fentanyl from Hashemi at a spot near Reed Avenue in Alexandria City.

Police arrested Hashemi in Tysons on June 2, 2021 after he dropped off fentanyl that the witness had arranged to buy from him, according to the affidavit.

Court records indicate that Hashemi reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in February.

“Mr. Hashemi became addicted to opioids after suffering trauma early in his life. He accepted responsibility early on in this case and continues to do so,” the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Alexandria, which represented Hashemi, said in a statement. “Although we do not agree that the sentence imposed was necessary, Mr. Hashemi accepts the court’s decision and is determined to address his own addiction through the next 15 years and beyond.”

In announcing the sentencing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also linked Hashemi to the Oct. 24, 2020, fatal overdose of a 22-year-old man identified as J.V. in Vienna.

Hashemi distributed drugs, including “pressed counterfeit pills containing fentanyl,” to J.V. from Sept. 18, 2020 to “at least” Oct. 14, 2020, according to a statement of facts filed by prosecutors. After police informed him of J.V.’s death, Hashemi said he didn’t want to talk to law enforcement without a lawyer.

Court documents don’t explain how police determined that the drugs involved in J.V.’s overdose were the ones he got from Hashemi. The U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t respond to FFXnow’s request for comment by press time.

“The government’s repeated insinuations in connection with [Hashemi’s] invocation of his right to counsel misrepresent the facts and betray an ignorance of every individual’s constitutional rights,” the public defender’s office said.

Photo via Google Maps

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