The Drug Enforcement Administration is opening their first new field office in 20 years in response to the deteriorating national opioid epidemic.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the office Wednesday, that will focus on opioid trafficking in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee. Federal officials are expanding resources for states to combat rising drug overdose deaths from synthetic opioids and prescription painkillers in an effort to “turn the tide” in the national fight against addiction, reports USA Today.
The DEA’s new operation, which is located in Louisville, Ky., will be staffed with more than 90 federal drug agents who will conduct enforcement operations throughout the region. Sessions also announced Wednesday the Department of Justice is directing $12 million in federal grants to create heroin task forces in areas where opioid addiction is rampant.
“I know that this crisis is daunting,” Sessions said, according to USA Today. “But we can, and we will turn the tide. We will not cede one city, one neighborhood or one street corner to gangs, violence or drugs.”
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” on Oct. 26, giving states hit hard by opioid addiction flexibility on how they direct federal resources to combat rising drug deaths.
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse released Sept. 7 paints a grim outlook for the current opioid crisis ravaging American communities. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under 50.
The study predicts the addiction epidemic in America will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.
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