Drug Enforcement Administration


Keith Martin (Acting), Special Agent in Charge

July 12, 2018

Contact: Brian McNeal

Phone Number: (571) 362-1498

Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, a new program announced by the Attorney General to combat opioid addiction

DAYTON, Ohio – Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Benjamin Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, today announced Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S.), a new program that seeks to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas and to identify wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers.

As part of Operation S.O.S., the Department of Justice will launch an enforcement surge in 10 districts with some of the highest drug overdose death rates, including the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio.

Each participating United States Attorney’s Office chose a specific county in which to prosecute every readily provable case involving the distribution of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and other synthetic opioids, regardless of drug quantity. The surge will involve a coordinated DEA Special Operations Division operation to insure that leads from street-level cases are used to identify larger scale distributors. Operation S.O.S. was inspired by a promising initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida involving Manatee County, Florida.
"When it comes to synthetic opioids, there is no such thing as a small case," Attorney General Sessions said. "In 2016, synthetic opioids killed more Americans than any other kind of drug. Three milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal--that's not even enough to cover up Lincoln's face on a penny. Our prosecutors in Manatee County, Florida have shown that prosecuting seemingly small synthetic opioids cases can have a big impact and save lives, and we want to replicate their success in the districts that need it most. This new strategy—and the new prosecutors who will help carry it out—will help us put more traffickers behind bars and keep the American people safe from the threat of these deadly drugs."

“We recommended including Montgomery County in this nationwide effort because of the way the community has stepped up enforcement, treatment and prevention efforts to battle the opioid epidemic since overdose deaths began their rapid climb in 2015,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “This focus will boost our efforts to dismantle the organizations that bring synthetic opioids into the area, track down the organization’s leaders and prosecute them for their crimes.”

Glassman noted that Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has preliminary numbers documenting 128 overdose deaths countywide so far in 2018. The coroner’s office reported a record 566 overdose deaths in 2017, most due to opioids including fentanyl. In 2016, the coroner recorded 349 overdose deaths in Montgomery County.

In addition, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Executive Office will send an additional two-year term Assistant United States Attorney to each participating district to assist with drug-related prosecutions.

The 10 participating districts are:

Northern District of Ohio
Southern District of Ohio
Eastern District of Tennessee
Eastern District of Kentucky
Southern District of West Virginia
Northern District of West Virginia
District of Maine
Eastern District of California
Western District of Pennsylvania
District of New Hampshire

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