District Attorney John Flynn announced a new Narcotics Bureau to help fight the opiate epidemic in Erie County.
Already in 2017, 19 suspected opiate overdose fatalities have been reported. Erie County officials hope a stand-alone Narcotics Bureau will help with these drug cases.
"One of my campaign promises was to put more of a focus on narcotics cases with the hope of stemming the tide of heroin-related overdose deaths," said DA Flynn. "By aggressively going after opiate dealers, we can help disrupt the supply of this poison that is killing people at an alarming rate."
According to the Erie County Department of Health, there has been a significant increase in opiate overdose deaths every year since 2014. In 2014, there were 127. In 2016, there were 240 confirmed opiate overdose deaths and 84 suspected pending toxicology results, bringing the year to a likely total of 324.
"Opioid overdoses are the number one cause of unnatural death in Erie County," says Health Commissioner Burstein. "With new and increasingly lethal opioids hitting our streets every few months, the need to aggressively prosecute predatory drug dealers has never been greater."
DA Flynn says the new Narcotics Bureau will expand the amount of cases it investigates by taking on those that involve lower amounts of drugs. The bureau aims to get drug dealers off the streets and get treatment for addicts.