District attorney to step up fight against fentanyl – Yahoo News
Apr. 8—District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp has announced his intention to step up tracking of drug traffickers and reduce the number of overdose deaths.
Thorp said it's no secret that authorities are dealing with a large number of people who are bringing in fentanyl and heroin into the area.
"It is crucial that we track down those responsible and hold them accountable for the spread of this poison," said Thorp. "If you are purchasing illegal controlled, dangerous substances on the street, there is a very high probability it has fentanyl in it."
In 1999, there were 178 overdose deaths in Oklahoma, and that number increased to 478 in 2005. There were nearly 800 overdose deaths in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"A leading cause for the increased mortality rate is the growing prevalence of fentanyl, which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency describes as, 'a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine,'" said Thorp.
The prosecutor announced a new law enforcement initiative aimed at finding drug traffickers and stemming the flow of illegal drugs into Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties.
"This new initiative will be a partnership between first responders, local law enforcement officers, public health employees, District 27 Drug Task Force agents, and prosecutors," said Thorp. "Overdoses will not be viewed as accidental deaths. Those scenes will be investigated as thoroughly as other crime scenes to gather the available evidence and follow that evidence to those responsible."
District 27 Drug Task Force Investigator Travis Saulsberry said that when officers take a case as an overdose, they lose evidence when the Medical Examiner takes the body, as they don't collect evidence, take photographs or seize phones.
"A lot of it is going to be training and education for our first responders — firefighters, law enforcement, EMS — to recognize that and treat it was a criminal investigation from the start," Saulsberry.
He said the new initiative will take time and hard work, but he believes it will be worth the effort.
"The biggest thing is going to be getting all the departments on board for training and working together at the scene to fight the overdoses and the drugs coming into our community," said Saulsberry.
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