The Drug Enforcement Administration is announcing a new program to address the opioid problem plaguing the streets of Southern California.
It's being called the DEA 360 Program.
In Los Angeles County in 2017, about 500 people died of opioid overdoses. It's a problem that affects people from all different backgrounds.
That's why the DEA has launched this program. They said it will work on a three-pronged approach: enforcement, regulation, and community outreach.
First, the agency will coordinate with law enforcement to target drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs supplying the drugs.
L.A., they said, is a major hub for the rest of the United States because heroin can arrive from Mexico, and fentanyl arrives at L.A. ports from China.
Next, the DEA will provide diversion control, which includes talking with drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists, and practitioners to increase awareness and encourage responsible prescribing practices. This also means going after corrupt pharmacies and unscrupulous doctors.
Finally, the DEA is partnering with local organizations to empower communities to fight the opioid epidemic. Volunteers are talking to people about the problem, setting up booths, and producing awareness videos for kids to watch at school and on social media.
"Almost 200 people a day are dying from overdose. That's a staggering number," DEA Associate Special Agent in Charge Daniel Comeaux said at a news release Tuesday. "That adds up to approximately 72,000 a year."
Statistics show that the problem is even greater on the East Coast, which is why local agents want to take action now to get out in front of it.