By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) In March 2018, President Donald Trump traveled to New Hampshire to deliver a speech regarding the launch of a new administrative initiative to combat the escalating epidemic of deadly opioid overdoses.
Now, 16 months later, the Justice Department is reporting that the president’s initiative has made substantial progress and that efforts are ongoing.
In releasing his â€œInitiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand,” the president laid out three objectives:
- Reduce drug demand through education, awareness, and preventing over-prescription.
- Cut off the flow of illicit drugs across our borders and within communities.
- Save lives now by expanding opportunities for proven treatments for opioid and other drug addictions.
According to a Justice Department statement on Wednesday, the initiative has gotten off to a good start roughly a year after it began in earnest:
One year ago, the Justice Department announced the formation of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S.), a program designed to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas as well as identifying wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers. Â
Over the past year, 10 districts with some of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country, each targeted a county where they focused on prosecuting every readily available case involving fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and other synthetic opioids, regardless of the drug quantity.
These districts worked with DEA Special Operations Division to track and coordinate these street-level cases and also received additional assistance from the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).
â€œOur attorneys and law enforcement agents have spent the past year working tirelessly to disrupt the networks engaged in the trafficking of synthetic opioids. Today we are proud to share their successes in 10 of the districts most affected by this scourge,â€ Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said.
â€œThe Department of Justiceâ€™s efforts have resulted in countless successes from California to Maine. We have successfully sought enhanced sentences in cases that resulted in deadly overdoses, and we have boosted cooperation among the partners involved,” he added.
“There remains much work to be done, but Operation S.O.S. marks a crucial turning point in the fight against synthetic opioids.â€
Specifically, according to DoJ, there are 10 districts participating in the program. Their efforts and successes include:
- TheÂ Eastern District of CaliforniaÂ has reported a total of 27 Operation S.O.S. investigations in which the narcotics seized have included kilogram-quantities of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.
- TheÂ Eastern District of KentuckyÂ has reported 15 investigations with six to eight new investigations being added monthly and has charged nine sentence-enhanced â€œdeath resultingâ€ cases.
- TheÂ District of MaineÂ has an additional 30 cases as a result of Operation S.O.S.
- TheÂ District of New HampshireÂ has had 41 cases through Operation S.O.S. that have resulted in indictments with fentanyl being distributed in 39 of those cases amongst other drugs.
- TheÂ Northern District of OhioÂ has indicted 71 defendants under Operation S.O.S., and has seen a 12 percent decrease in overdose deaths from the previous year.
- TheÂ Southern District of OhioÂ has 58 Operation S.O.S. investigations of the 58 investigations, 52 involve fentanyl distribution.
- TheÂ Western District of PennsylvaniaÂ noticed the decline in overdose deaths in the county they originally had targeted. This decline was attributed to a large number of people moving out of the targeted county to attempt to circumvent the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Officeâ€™s efforts.Â The U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office has refocused their resources to target the county where fatal overdoses have increased the most.
- TheÂ Eastern District of TennesseeÂ has reported seven Operation S.O.S. cases involving 39 defendants, with a number of those including â€œdeath resultingâ€ cases.
- TheÂ Northern District of West VirginiaÂ has 22 Operation S.O.S. cases with one â€œdeath resultingâ€ prosecution. One of these investigations resulted in eight separate cases involving 35 defendants.
- TheÂ Southern District of West VirginiaÂ has 62 cases pending as a result of Operation S.O.S. with 13 convictions. Just recently, a 1.2-kilogram mixture of fentanyl and heroin was seized from a defendant in one of those cases.
In addition to curbing the smuggling of illicit opioids, the Trump administration also seeks to curtail opioid prescriptions from doctors and primary care providers by one-third, the White House says.
Also, the president’s program includes treatment resources and initiatives for Americans addicted to opioids and addressing other factors driving the high addiction rate.
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