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Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

DEA sets strategy to combat drug, opioid addiction in Southern Massachusetts

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The U.S. Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) is initiating an effort to combat the drug abuse epidemic in the South Coast region of Massachusetts.

The DEA is initiating a “360 Strategy” in that region – which is a comprehensive diversion control, law enforcement, and prevention program to help cities dealing with the fentanyl, heroin, and prescription drug abuse epidemic.

“We must continue to find new and innovative ways to address the growing abuse of fentanyl, heroin and prescription drugs, and the violence that stems from these illicit drug trades,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Boyle said. “The 360 Strategy brings many agencies together that have dealt with this problem separately, into a unifying, far-reaching and prolonged effort to go after the drug trafficking organizations but also to make the communities resilient to their return.”

The DEA 360 Strategy takes a three-pronged approach to fighting drug trafficking and stemming abuse. One, enforcement actions target all levels of drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs supplying drugs in our neighborhoods. Two, they engage drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners, and pharmacists to increase awareness of the prescription drug and related heroin problem. Three, they partner with medical professionals, governmental and community service organizations to proactively educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and heroin abuse.

“The community outreach aspect may be the most important and critical to its indelible success,” Boyle said. “We have to vigorously continue to work on the most effective ways to talk about these programs in ways we’ve never done before in order to stop abuse, addiction and to save lives.”

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said the opioid epidemic is ravaging communities in Massachusetts.

“The investigation and prosecution of fentanyl and heroin suppliers is a key component of law enforcement’s approach. But it leads to an inflection point: when we arrest a fentanyl supplier, we cut off his customers. It is at this moment that the DEA 360 Strategy will prove most effective by introducing community partners, who are best-positioned to intervene and provide resources to drug customers, to make an impact. In the end, our goal is to save lives, and that necessitates a comprehensive, 360 degree approach,” Lelling said.

The 360 Strategy brings together many experts in substance abuse and prevention to address parents/caregivers in the home, educators and the classroom, after school organizations such as the boy and girl clubs and athletic associations, and the workplace. The goal of the strategy is to provide as much information as possible in many different forms to reach young people.

“There is no community that is safe from the opioid epidemic – this is a threat to our nation’s public health and safety,” Boyle said. “DEA’s 360 Strategy will utilize every community resource possible to reach our young people so we can prevent that first-time use and lifelong battle of addiction.”