BONITA, Calif. — Hundreds of people packed into a South Bay church Friday to discuss the ongoing fentanyl crisis in San Diego.

Organizers educated families at Bonita Valley Community Church to talk about how the problem affects many locals, especially those within Spanish-speaking communities.

For speaker Jaime Puerta, the event hit close to home.

“On April 21, I walked into his room and I found him dead,” said Puerta, describing the day he found his son after an accidental overdose.

Puerta shared his story with hundreds of Latino families here to warn parents and kids of the dangers of fentanyl.

According to the United States Department of Justice, San Diego County alone saw more than 810 fentanyl deaths in 2021, a 73% jump in deaths from the previous year.

“Kids who are 14, 15, that’s what they’re buying. Through Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram,” says Dr. Beatriz Villareal with the Mano a Mano Foundation.

Kids like Puerta’s son, who thought he was taking oxycodone but turned out to be a pill laced with the highly deadly substance. 

The father now pleads to other’s children, hoping to help them avoid the same fate. 

“You’re playing Russian roulette every time you do it,” said the father. “Don’t put your parents through it. I can tell you as a parent, don’t do that to them,” says Puerta.

District Attorney Summer Stephan says her office has been working to stiffen penalties for drug dealers to combat the crisis.

“We’ve prosecuted seven cases as a homicide; We want dealers out there to know that if you sell this deadly product, it is poison and you may very well be charged with murder,” said Stephan.

Organizers also used the meeting as an opportunity to demonstrate how to use administer Narcan in case of an overdose. They also handed out free boxes of Narcan to the families at the event.