The U.S. opioid crisis has caused thousands of deaths and overdoses across the entire country but there aren’t many states who have been hit as hard as Ohio. Ohio suffers from the second-largest opioid death rate per capita behind only West Virginia and has seen hundreds of families and friends lose loved ones over the past 2 decades.
In the years since President Trump’s declaration of the crisis as a federal health emergency, both the federal government and the state of Ohio have poured millions of dollars into stemming the flow of opioids along the Ohio River Valley. The creation of new programs coupled with a community-first approach to the crisis has finally brought overdoses down – except for fentanyl-related overdoses. Though most opioid deaths are falling, fentanyl-related deaths are still on the rise, but thanks to a joint task force, there are 45 fewer pounds of fentanyl that will make it to Ohio streets.
Ohio criminal justice authorities recently seized almost 45 pounds of suspected fentanyl as part of a joint effort between federal authorities and Ohio. The seizure is so large that agencies have referred to it as seizing a “weapon of mass destruction that could kill the entire population of Ohio many times over.”
On top of the 45 pounds of fentanyl, three pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of suspected heroin, three firearms, and approximately $30,000 in cash was also seized from the Montgomery County Ohio home in late October according to a statement from Ohio’s Regional Agencies Narcotics and Gun Enforcement Task Force.
“This multimillion-dollar fentanyl seizure clearly shows the enormity of the opioid problem in this area,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Deters of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division. “Law enforcement will continue to work aggressively to address the illegal drug supply, but there is also a continuing need to address demand as well.”
Ohio is one of four states along with Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, that saw an increase of 500 or more fentanyl-related deaths from 2014-2015. The corridor from Ohio to the northeast and from Ohio to Kentucky has been one of the most frequently used regions to traffic fentanyl and has received special attention from opioid task forces.
Another recent bust in Kentucky resulted in 20 arrests and the seizure of nearly 300 fentanyl pills that authorities say was being trafficked between Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
The drug seizure was carried out through Ohio authorities, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The task force is credited for keeping the deadly fentanyl off Ohio streets. “The quantity of fentanyl, in this case, amounts to chemical warfare and a weapon of mass destruction,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
Grady Jackson, 37, Anthony Franklin, 30, and Shamar Davis, 31, have been arrested in relation to the bust. The trio faces several charges including illegal possession of a firearm, possession, and intent to distribute.
The Ohio bust comes on the heels of the largest bust in U.S. history in January 2019. During the January bust, Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than 250 pounds of fentanyl hidden in a produce truck. The 250 pounds seized would be enough to kill millions of Americans.
A federal and Ohio based joint task force also arrested more than 60 doctors, pharmacists, and health professionals who they described as operating like ‘drug dealers’ across the Ohio River Valley. “If so-called medical professionals are going to behave like drug dealers, we’re going to treat them like drug dealers,” said Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general. The first of its kind sting shut down several clinics, pharmacies, and doctors’ offices across multiple states. The investigation included more than 300 investigators spread across five opioid-ravaged states of Appalachia.
Fentanyl and the Opioid Crisis
Thanks to the joint effort between the federal government and Ohio, non-fentanyl opioid deaths have finally dropped for the first time since the early 2000s, but fentanyl remains a top killer in the Buckeye State. From 2007 to 2017 Ohio saw a 1,000 percent increase in drug overdoses, which are now the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. Despite the drop in overdoses, opioids are still ravaging their way across Ohio, with ten overdoses in 26 hours in Franklin County as recently as September 2019.
Fentanyl, originally designed to treat chronic long-term pain, is up to 100 times stronger than heroin or morphine. Despite its potency fentanyl is cheaper than heroin or cocaine and is often cut into other street drugs without the user being aware. “Fentanyl and methamphetamine are responsible for the vast majority of overdose deaths in our area,” the Montgomery county coroner, Dr. Kent Harshbarger, said in the task force statement.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction
Ohio’s opioid crisis has shattered the lives of many Ohio residents but thankfully the state has solutions for addicts in the help of professional opioid addiction treatment.
Treatment centers around Ohio offer much more than a medical detox to get opioids out of your system. Opioid treatment centers are a one-stop resource for medical detox, psychological counseling, and relapse prevention to keep addicts from ever going back to deadly opioids. Professional opioid treatment centers help the addict detox safely and comfortably for a much higher chance at long-term recovery.
If you or a loved one is in danger of becoming the next statistic in the opioid crisis, reach out to OhioARC treatment center today.