Its been a national news story, and a national crisis.
Opioids, Fentanyl, Heroin and the damage they can do to people.. and lives.
“I believe we are able to get a better grasp on it than ever before. training knowledge and experience.”
The Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics team is dealing with the drugs, the users, and the potential consequences. Its changed the way investigators work, and what they have to do to fight the problem, and keep themselves safe.
“Even agents who have been completely outfitted with top protective gear and still finding ways to get exposed,” said Gene Harley, Assistant Director Chatham-Savannah CNT.
That exposure could be potentially deadly.
28 deaths in Chatham County in 2016 alone.
Many related to Fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, taken by users, or laced in various pills, cocaine and even marijuana. Abused more than ever.
“We are essentially living the 80’s crack epidemic,’ said Harley. Like we did in 80’s crack epidemic we learned to combat from there, proactively approach it and aggressively approach it.”
CNT has started a clandestine response team to work in counties throughout South Georgia. They;ve created a “clean room” where agents can open and analyze the dangerous drug, which is becoming more widespread every day.
Now more than ever CNT is working with federal investigators and the postal service to catch the drugs, and the dealers, before they hit the streets
“While we’ve been very good at going after the dealer himself or herself, we’ve also been very good when you have talking abouit opiiods and fentanyl, going and identifying where its coming from outside the United States,” said Harley. “Working with our partners weve been very good at finding opiods or fentanyl packages that would have been inbound for the Chatham County area for the purpose of distribution,” explained Harley. “Not only do we stop it from hitting the streets, we work with our federal partners to identify the source.”
“When we can work operations that we have been back to the source and even when its outside the US, and we can shut down the source. Not only can we shut down a huge operation thats working here in Chatham County, but its very likely operating in the United States as a whole.”
As the crackdown on opioid pills and fentanyl laced drugs starts working, an old drug is making a comeback… heroin.
This year 100 grams of heroin are now in CNT custody. Thats almost 2/3rds of all of last year’s haul.
“We see that we are going to Atlanta (to find the drugs) which are being brought in from Mexico, or its coming from up in New York, New Jersey. We are having to combat the source in various different areas.”
“What we are seeing is places up north like New York, New Jersey where heroin has always been a big to do, where drug deals are a big business they take notice, flood their substance down here. and so we have to combat this brand new set of heroin.”
Combatting those addicts is more difficult, because they are harder to find than ever..
“A heroin addict as long as they have their regular fix, they can be a regular operating person even in business community and you;d have no idea they are an addict.”
The one thing that doesn’t change, CNT will find the sources, will arrest the dealers and users, and they will talk.
“when we catch them they typically always talk and the first thing they do is give up everyone in their group.”
“When we catch them they typically always talk and the first thing they do is give up everyone in their group.”
“I can assure you that we are coming after everyone we don’t care who they are. and once we arrest them a domino effect will follow.”
CNT also carries the anti-overdoes Narcan, and has had to use it not only to save addicts lives, but even used the anti-overdose drug on their own investigators to prevent a potential issue.