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New deadly drug mix hits Northeast Ohio, overdose deaths increase

Posted at 7:46 PM, Apr 03, 2018

Drug Enforcement Agents have seen more cocaine on the streets of Northeast Ohio in the last two years than in recent history. 

In the fall of 2016, a truck loaded with cocaine was discovered in Cleveland. Inside were roughly 90 kilos of cocaine. It was just part of the roughly 200 kilos of cocaine seized by Cleveland DEA in less than two years. 

"These are border type seizures. They're not seizures that are made in cities like Cleveland," said Keith Martin, Assistant Special Agent In Charge Cleveland DEA.

Also in 2016, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson said there was a huge spike in overdose deaths linked to cocaine - and that trend has continued. 

"In 2016, we started to see the number of deaths associated with cocaine appear to rise after being relatively flat for the decade before that," said Gilson.

Cocaine mixed with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has contributed to a rising number of drug overdose deaths across the state. In Cuyahoga County, the number of cocaine-related overdose deaths went from 110 to 220 in 2016.

"In 2017, that number was about 350. These are dramatic rises," said Gilson.