San Diego DA joins in on opioid dealer crackdown

SAN DIEGO -- In response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' call for a 45-day surge in opioid-related enforcement, the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego has filed 53 criminal opioid cases, including seven involving the deadly drug fentanyl, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

During the surge, 46 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the border, and the U.S. Attorney's Office sought civil remedies in an opioid-related case against a doctor, according to U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.

Braverman said the most significant opioid-related cases since the onset of the surge on Jan. 29 include charges against three alleged opioid dealers who are believed to be collectively responsible for eight overdoses, including three deaths, plus the dismantling of a pill-mill operation, a  77- pound fentanyl seizure at the border and action against two doctors.

"Working closely with the District Attorney's Office, and federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the Southern District of California has charged three alleged opioid dealers with distribution of narcotics resulting in death," Braverman said. "Our office is committed to holding dealers accountable for the deaths that result from their reckless disregard for human life."

According to authorities, about 64,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2016, the highest drug death toll and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history. The epidemic is being driven primarily by opioids, prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl. For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.