New task force announced in fight to stop flow of opioids into Southeast Michigan

Federal officials dedicating more resources to fight opioid epidemic

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - Federal law enforcement agencies are dedicating unprecedented resources toward fighting the nation's opioid epidemic.

Federal officials said this opioid epidemic is a different animal from past drug issues. Dozens of officials from local, state and federal agencies, along with Canadian police officers and prosecutors, will be put under one roof to fight the epidemic.

Crack and heroin are part of the epidemic, but officials said the real game changer is fentanyl, a cancer treatment painkiller more widely abused now than ever before. It's a favorite of drug dealers because it's expensive. But a small dose of fentanyl can be deadly.

Police are finding fentanyl everywhere, It was discovered in an Ypsilanti Township subdivision earlier this month. Prince died using it.

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon said fentanyl is flooding into the United States and Southeast Michigan.

"Can't state enough: It's coming straight -- you can get it directly from China, through the mail, dark web or order it on the regular web," Plancon said. "The Mexican cartels are involved in it, and it's coming in as pure fentanyl."

It's killing people on a grand and frightening scale, according to U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

"More people died of overdoses last year in Michigan than died in car accidents and firearms combined," Schneider said. "You could fill Tiger Stadium with people overdosing. That's why we had to step it up."

The goal is that officials won't have to wait to follow leads or get search warrants because there will be more people to process that information efficiently. They'll work with 15 other similar strike forces around the nation.

"Our individual efforts -- they just weren't as food as we wanted them to be," Schneider said. "We know gangs and cartels work together, and so we're going to do the same thing."

Copyright 2018 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.