As fentanyl overdoses continue to impact the community, local law enforcement is making an effort to crack down on drug dealers.
However, authorities say it’s not easy to charge them with “drug delivery resulting in death.”
Drug overdoses and drug-related deaths increased in the City of Erie last year. Authorities said in 2021 there were 246 overdoses and 35 deaths.
Then in 2022, there were 286 overdoses and 54 deaths.
“Just last year, our frontline patrol units administered 226 doses of Narcan and that’s just police officers administering Narcan to overdose victims. Obviously, there’s a problem. We’re seeing an increase in overdoses so what we’re going to try to do is get to the root of the problem, which is obviously drug dealers,” said Deputy Chief Rick Lorah, City of Erie Police Department.
Last May, 25 people were indicted in an Erie-based trafficking ring. Erie Police worked alongside the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Lorah added that efforts continue to track down lethal drug activity.
“Drug dealers are using fentanyl and they’re labeling them as over-the-counter prescription medication. Obviously, the individuals who are buying this aren’t aware of the potency,” Lorah said.
Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said when users get drugs off the street, they’re taking a deadly risk.
“Chances are very, very good that you’re not going to survive it. It’s just that simple. I don’t know how to get that message out, but that’s what we’re seeing because the vast majority of our drug deaths I’m sure did not think they were going to end up dying from this,” said Cook.