NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) reported 103 suspected overdose deaths from the beginning of the year to the week of March 4. That’s compared to 136 during the same time period in 2022.
According to MPHD, the highly lethal drug fentanyl was detected in 73.5% of suspected overdose deaths.
Tennessee will share in a $275 million pot of grant money from the federal government to fight drug trafficking in the U.S. The money will be split among 33 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) to help law enforcement disrupt trafficking operations, and in turn, hurt the drug cartels’ bottom line.
National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta said law enforcement are working to prevent overdose deaths and poisonings from fentanyl.
“Their work is itself a statement because just last year, they denied traffickers more than $22 billion, including $9 billion in fentanyl,” said Dr. Gupta. “That also includes thousands of operations to disrupt and dismantle the drug trafficking organizations.”
In Nashville, there have been more than 1,300 suspected overdoses so far in 2023 — almost the same exact number from the same time period in 2022.
Tennessee Congressman Mark Green is the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Last week, he took the whole committee to McAllen, Texas, to examine border issues. During the meeting, he criticized Democrats who were not in attendance. He spoke on the flow of fentanyl coming into the United States.
“To use a military term, the cartels are ‘neutralizing’ Customs and Border Patrol by forcing them to thin the lines in the rural areas, then the fentanyl and the nefarious individuals they’re trafficking into the United States come across in the rural areas,” Green said.
Dr. Gupta said in addition to the work of law enforcement, addiction resources are also key.
“It’s important to make sure that we have treatment, access to treatment available as well, because addiction is a brain disease,” said Dr. Gupta. “We want to be able to, you know, go after the bad guys, deny them the profits while making sure we have the ability to get everybody that help that they need in order to save lives.”