DEA to Provide New York, Other States with A-Team to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic--Fentanyl Crystals and Pills
Credits: DEA

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will send a team of special task force in the State of New York to help combat the opioid epidemic.

According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the action comes after his major push and funding effort for the DEA.

In June, He requested DEA to deploy an A-Team in New York City and Long Island to help fight the crisis.  At the time, the senator helped secure millions of funding for DEA in fiscal year 2017. The funding is for the creation of new enforcement groups focused on preventing heroin and fentanyl trafficking.

According to Schumer, New York should receive a special heroine enforcement team. The agency made a commitment to help the State fight the opioid epidemic.

Today, Schumer said, “New York is getting an A-Team to help tackle the heroin and fentanyl epidemic. A special heroin enforcement team will lend a major hand in the fight to end the opioid scourge.” He added, “I’m pleased that the feds have heeded the call.” The A-team will be stationed in Long Island.

Heroin and opioid over dose death rates in New York

In 2015, New York’s heroin overdose death rate went up by 30%. Last year, the number of number of unintentional drug overdose deaths in New York City was 1,373. The figure rose 437 from 937 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015.

According to the NYC Department of Health,  more than eight in ten fatal overdoses involved heroin (55%) and opioid (44%) last year.

According to Schumer, approximately 1.4 million New Yorkers are suffering from substance abuse disorder. Between 2004 to 2015, the heroin treatment admissions in upstate New York rose 115%. In Long Island, the heroine treatment admissions increased 116%.

Addressing opioid epidemic is a top priority 

In a statement, DEA Acting Administrator Robert Patterson said their top priority is addressing the opioid epidemic. Pursuing criminal organizations that distribute fatal drugs to neighborhoods is also a priority.

Patterson said, “These teams will enhance DEA’s ability to combat trafficking in heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogues.”  Additionally, the teams will improve the agency’s ability to prevent  violence associated with drug trafficking.”

Furthermore, the DEA said other States facing significant challenges fighting the opioid epidemic will also receive new enforcement teams.

The agency is sending enforcement teams in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Charleston, West Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina. It will also send teams in Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio

The DEA chose the locations based on multiple factors including opioid mortality, level of heroin and fentanyl seizures, among others.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump declared opioid epidemic a public health emergency.