Federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials, along with partnering law enforcement and health agencies, on Wednesday announced a new plan to combat heroin and prescription drug addiction in Baltimore.
The DEA “360 Strategy,” which has been launched in 14 cities in recent years, involves increased coordination between federal agencies and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers. It also works with drug manufacturers and those in the medical field to encourage responsible prescribing practices, and provides support for community organizations to treat those who are addicted and to educate youth…
…Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said his office has been partnering with the DEA to prosecute cases.
He recalled recent indictments of an alleged “pill mill” operator and staff who he said were essentially selling prescriptions. In June, Tormarco Harris, 32, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for running pill mills in Baltimore and Glen Burnie.
Frosh also noted the recent indictments of 13 alleged gang members who authorities said were selling fentanyl, heroin and other drugs.
Prosecutors said the investigation into the “500” or “500 L” gang, which involved both sworn members of the Bloods gang and non-members, had operated since 2014 primarily in the 500 block of N. Rose Street in the McElderry Park neighborhood, several blocks east of Johns Hopkins Hospital.
That investigation, Frosh said, was also able to bring charges in the June 2017 killing of bartender Sebastian Dvorak, who prosecutors said was robbed and shot by one of the defendants.
“We are very much aware while law enforcement and locking people up is a key component of this, it’s not the only one,” Frosh said. “This is a multi-prong effort.”
The Attorney General’s Office is also working to dismantle unscrupulous manufacturers. Frosh said his office has filed a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer who is making a fentanyl-based drug. While it’s approved by the Federal Drug Administration for pain associated with cancer treatment, Frosh alleges that the company was marketing it for people with any kind of pain.
Overselling of the drug has led to “a trail of addiction and death in our state,” he said.
Officials at Wednesday’s event also emphasized the importance of decreasing demand of opioids through educating youth about the dangers of such drugs and encouraging those who are addicted to prescription drugs, fentenyl and heroin to seek treatment.