Drug Enforcement Administration tackling violent crime by tracking drug overdoses

The latest FBI crime numbers show homicides up nationwide by 30 percent in just one year. But now a new program is going after violent crime by tracking drug overdoses.

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration showed FOX23′s Blair Miller how it works.

>>>MORE: Oklahoma one of 30 states to receive funding from DEA to combat fentanyl distribution

Across the country, federal agents and local police are quick to say gun violence is out of hand but that’s not all. Jarod Forget is the Special Agent in Charge at the D.E.A.’s Washington, D.C. office. He shared how agents are changing tactics to fight fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, with a new directive called Operation Overdrive.

“The reason why the D.E.A. launched the initiative is the high number of overdoses we’re seeing in the country,” said Forget.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from May of 2020 to April of last year, the nation saw 105,000 deaths linked to overdoses. Among men ages 18 to 45, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death.

>>>MORE: US overdose deaths hit record 107,000 in 2021, CDC says

But the surge of overdoses led the D.E.A. to a surprising place. They started looking at gun crimes and the amount of violence happening in cities across the country.

“We looked at where we’re seeing the highest amount of violence and then, we also looked at the areas where we’re seeing a lot of overdoses and we mapped them together,” said Forget.

That led D.E.A. agents and local police to work together more, move in on the threats, and try and take down criminal networks in these areas. The hope is it leads to a drop in both violent crime and drug overdoses at the same time.

The program’s launched in 34-cities across 23 states. But the D.E.A. says they’ve noticed something even more frightening. The amount of deadly fentanyl they’re seeing is now showing up in clusters in cities.

>>>MORE: Expert tells NSU students Oklahoma is in the third opioid epidemic

Michael Rosemond, a seasoned D.E.A. Agent, says even he’s shocked at some of the things he’s seen recently.

“We had 14 people that went down on an overdose on a city block and then another incident where nine people ended up dying around several block. It’s almost like a mass casualty event or a mass shooting,” said Rosemond.

D.E.A. agents say this is just the first phase of operation overdrive. They say it will expand to more cities and eventually across the country.