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Spike in cocaine related deadly overdoses in Cuyahoga County

More federal prosecutors deployed to help
Posted at 6:20 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 18:20:39-04

The opioid crisis hit home for Fred DiMarco three years ago. His son, Nick, was just days away from his 19th birthday when he died from a heroin overdose. Since that day in 2015, DiMarco has been on a mission to help other families avoid his heartbreak. 

"The worst has happened to me and my family. We have the ability to help others," said DiMarco. 

One way they are trying to help others is happening inside the U.S. Attorney's office in Cleveland. More prosecutors have been deployed to fight the opioid crisis in the courtroom, they're focused on putting drug dealers away.

"It's a response from the justice department and the administration to what is a historic crisis," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Justin Herdman. 

But, there is a new threat. Drug Enforcement Agents have seen a spike in the mixture of cocaine and fentanyl on the streets in Cuyahoga County and it is proving deadly. 

"This is an emergency. We're talking about people using cocaine who don't know it has fentanyl in it," said Herdman. "It's killing them by the hundreds, " he said.

The number of deadly heroin and fentanyl overdoses are down. But, the number of cocaine-related overdoses has skyrocketed. In 2015, 115 deadly overdoses, in 2016, the number more than doubled to 260, 290 in 2017 and if 2018 continues at its current pace, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office projects that number to be 384. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office is developing a response plan to the problem of the spike in cocaine-related overdoses.