New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to dispatch one of four special heroin task-forces to New York City to combat rampant opioid overdoses.
The DEA created four special heroin enforcement teams to aid areas where local authorities are overwhelmed by drug deaths. Schumer wants the DEA to send one of the teams to New York City, where authorities estimate thousands died from opioid overdoses in 2016, though the numbers are not yet final, reports PIX 11.
The heroin overdose death rate in New York spiked 30 percent in 2015 and last year roughly four people died from a drug overdose each day in New York City.
“New York’s rampant heroin epidemic proves we are in desperate need of one of the four special heroin enforcement teams being launched throughout the country,” Schumer said Sunday, according to PIX 11. “With more than a thousand deaths related to heroin overdoses in 2016 alone, it’s time for the DEA to bring it’s A-team to New York so that we can finally zero in on this epidemic and stop the scourge in its tracks.”
Twenty-four counties in New York are designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas by the DEA. Early data from the NYC Department of Health shows there were nearly 1,400 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2016. Much of this rise is attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, which is often cut into heroin and cocaine supplies.
Painkiller and heroin abuse in New York claimed 2,431 lives in 2015. The state experienced a 135.7 percent increase in synthetic opioid and heroin deaths between 2014 and 2015, one of the largest increases for a state.
More than two million Americans have some sort of physical dependence on opioids, and nearly 100 million Americans have a prescription for the drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under 50.
The New York Times recently culled through data from state health departments and county medical examiners and coroners, predicting there were between 59,000 and 65,000 drug deaths in 2016.
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