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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 12, 2018

Montgomery County One of Ten Areas in DOJ Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge

DAYTON –  Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Benjamin C. Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, today announced Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S.), a new program that seeks to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas and to identify wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers.

As part of Operation S.O.S., the Department will launch an enforcement surge in ten districts with some of the highest drug overdose death rates, including the Southern District of Ohio.

Each participating United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) chose a specific county in which to prosecute every readily provable case involving the distribution of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and other synthetic opioids, regardless of drug quantity. The surge will involve a coordinated DEA Special Operations Division operation to insure that leads from street-level cases are used to identify larger scale distributors. Operation S.O.S. was inspired by a promising initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida involving Manatee County, Florida.

"When it comes to synthetic opioids, there is no such thing as a small case," Attorney General Sessions said. "In 2016, synthetic opioids killed more Americans than any other kind of drug. Three milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal--that's not even enough to cover up Lincoln's face on a penny. Our prosecutors in Manatee County, Florida have shown that prosecuting seemingly small synthetic opioids cases can have a big impact and save lives, and we want to replicate their success in the districts that need it most. This new strategy—and the new prosecutors who will help carry it out—will help us put more traffickers behind bars and keep the American people safe from the threat of these deadly drugs."

“We recommended including Montgomery County in this nationwide effort because of the way the community has stepped up enforcement, treatment and prevention efforts to battle the opioid epidemic since overdose deaths began their rapid climb in 2015,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “This focus will boost our efforts to dismantle the organizations that bring synthetic opioids into the area, track down the organization’s leaders and prosecute them for their crimes.”

Glassman noted that Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has preliminary numbers documenting 128 overdose deaths countywide so far in 2018. The coroner’s office reported a record 566 overdose deaths in 2017, most due to opioids including fentanyl. In 2016, the coroner recorded 349 overdose deaths in Montgomery County.

In addition, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Executive Office will send an additional two-year term Assistant United States Attorney to each participating district to assist with drug-related prosecutions.

The ten participating districts are:

Northern District of Ohio

Southern District of Ohio

Eastern District of Tennessee

Eastern District of Kentucky

Southern District of West Virginia

Northern District of West Virginia

District of Maine

Eastern District of California

Western District of Pennsylvania

District of New Hampshire

 

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Topic(s): 
Opioids
Contact: 
Jennifer.thornton@usdoj.gov or fred.alverson@usdoj.gov
Updated July 12, 2018