The feds are targeting the Bronx and upstate Buffalo as part of a new multi-city attack on drug-related violence and overdoses, authorities announced Monday.
The two New York cities — as well as Newark and Camden in New Jersey — are among 34 locations in 23 states that will be part of “Operation Overdrive,” an initiative launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration on Feb. 1.
The DEA said it will use “a data-driven, intelligence-led approach to identify and dismantle criminal drug networks operating in areas with the highest rates of violence and overdoses.”
“The consequences of drug trafficking have become evidently clear in New York,” DEA Agent Timothy Foley said in a statement announcing the effort.
The agency “will continue to target the world’s most prolific drug traffickers” but also employ a more local focus to “seize illegal drugs and guns from the streets and remove violent drug organizations from neighborhoods within these cities,” he said.
The effort is designed to address the 275 people who are dying every day from overdoses, the feds said. Drug ODs took the lives of a record-breaking 103,000 people in the US from April 2020 to April 2021.
In that time period, New York alone saw a 20.4 percent spike in overdose deaths. More than 75 percent of those fatalities were from opioids, including fentanyl, according to data released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 12-month span between April 2019 and April 2020 held the previous record of most overdose deaths, or 93,000.
The operation will also combat the rising violence the DEA says can be directly tied to drug-related activity. The agency said it confiscated more than 8,700 firearms in 2021.
During his last months in office, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opened the country’s first “safe injection” sites in Harlem and Washington Heights, which allow those suffering from substance-use disorders to take drugs under supervised care.
The controversial sites have seen success in reducing overdoses — more than 110 overdoses were averted or reversed in the sites first six weeks of operation, according to the city.