Drug epidemics continue to plague American cities. Opioid, heroin, crack, prescription drugs, you name it, have all caused a massive number of overdoses and deaths.
Drug dealers are the criminals perpetuating these addictions. So it has been up to local law enforcement to handle this criminal activity and some have dealt with it better than others.
Last week, Broward County in south Florida announced that its “Operation Bad Dose” has led to 82 arrests of drug dealers and traffickers in just three days. The operation took four months to plan and officials focused on the most popular illegal drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, and other types of opioids.
Florida is currently suffering from one of the highest rates of deaths from opioid drug overdoses it has ever had. Broward County, in particular, had 560 drug deaths in 2016. The majority of which were related to heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids.
“It’s infecting our neighborhoods, poisoning our children and filling our morgues,” said Scott Israel, sheriff of Broward County to the Sun Sentinel. “We’re fighting back.”
Sheriff Israel has made it clear that this is just the beginning.
“The drug traffickers and the drug dealers are who we went after,” said Israel. “We believe in rehabilitation, we believe in second chances but not for drug dealers and traffickers. We mean business.”
Florida formerly suffered from a massive Oxycodone epidemic seven or so years ago. This was before Purdue Pharma reformulated the drug to make it tougher to be abused. Under 2010, the pills could no longer be crushed, snorted or injected.
Then Gov. Rick Scott signed the HB 7095, also known as the “Pill Mill” bill. This increased penalties for overprescribing Oxycodone, gave $3 million in aid to state and local law enforcement to focus on Oxycodone crime, required tracking on the whole distribution of a list of controlled substances, and introduced other regulations to limit prescription drug abuse.
“The number of oxycodone pills shipped to Florida dropped to under 527 million in 2011 and continued to drop each year. Last year, the number was 313 million, less than half the pills sent to the state just three years before, according to data from the DEA. There are now 367 pain clinics statewide, less than half the number in 2011. In Hillsborough County, there are 61, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” wrote TBO.com a few years ago. “And oxycodone — still lethal — is no longer the leading overdose killer in the state. In 2012, 735 people died of oxycodone deaths in Florida, less than half the number just two years before, according to numbers from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.”
While, local departments like Broward are making an effort to stop opioid drug crime in particular. In 2016 alone, there were over 59,000 drug deaths across the country.
“The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50,” writes the New York Times. “Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.”
These numbers were calculated by The Times from hundreds of state health departments across the country. The publication points that the East Coast has seen increases in drug overdoses.
But the Midwest has seen a spike in opioid addictions too.
“A report last week from the CDC observed a 426 percent increase in cases where fentanyl or other synthetic opioids turned up in drugs seized by police in 2013 and 2014, the most recent years that data is available. At the same time, they noted a corresponding 79 percent rise in fatal overdoses in 27 states — including Ohio and West Virginia. Many coroners and state crime labs don’t routinely test for fentanyl, so the drug could be even more prevalent,” wrote Vice News in August of 2016.
So how has fentanyl gain such popularity with drug addicts?
“The spread of fentanyl is partly due to basic economics: Unlike heroin, which requires careful cultivation of poppy fields, synthetic opioids can be cheaply manufactured on an industrial scale with basic chemical know-how. It costs $3,000 to $4,000 to produce a kilo of fentanyl — the same cost as to produce a kilo of heroin, according to Russ Baer, a DEA spokesman. That kilo of heroin sells in the US for $60,000 or more, with a street value of several hundred thousand dollars when diluted and sold by the gram. But fentanyl’s extreme potency means it can be cut and split into many more kilos, increasing a dealer’s profits,” wrote Vice News.
Author’s note: It seems like once a drug is no longer at epidemic levels, another takes its place. Combating drug crime is going to take aggressive operations on the local level across the U.S., much like Broward’s recent massive arrests.
Editor’s note: Drug abuse has a “hyperbolic” supply and demand curve. This means a drug dealer can give out free samples and create a brand new demand, because addiction is physically and mentally undeniable. This stuff ruins lives.
Florida has made great strides under Governor Rick Scott. PBP is in Broward County and we are proud of our local boys (and girls!) taking out the bad guys. Congrats to them.