SAN DIEGO — An executive order was signed Tuesday by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, directing further action to address the fentanyl crisis, the mayor’s office announced in a press release.

The mayor hopes the measure will assist in stemming addiction and overdose-related deaths connected to the illicit drug. This comes after more than 800 San Diegans died from fentanyl last year, with overdoses in the region continuing at an alarming rate, the press release noted.

“The proliferation of fentanyl in our communities, and the accompanying death and destruction it’s causing in our communities, demands swift action from all levels of government,“ Mayor Gloria said. “As mayor, I’m going to do everything within my authority to tackle this crisis head-on. Today, we’re taking measures to help disrupt the distribution of fentanyl and hold predatory dealers accountable for the harm they’re causing to our community.”

The executive order directs the San Diego Police Department to strengthen and prioritize enforcement for fentanyl sales-related crimes, explained the mayor’s office.

“Far too many people in our community, from all walks of life, have felt the devastating effects of fentanyl,” said Police Chief David Nisleit. “We must take an aggressive approach to this epidemic. The San Diego Police Department continues to work with our law enforcement and community partners to track down, arrest, and prosecute those who would peddle this poison in our neighborhoods and to some of our most vulnerable populations.”

Also announced in the executive order was the city’s intent to introduce legislation at the state and federal level to reclassifying fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug. The press release also noted the mayor seeks to increase funding for education and treatment programs.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that officials say is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.