Ocean County NJ has a full-blown heroin epidemic, according to local authorities. Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato recently issued a statement calling on residents to exercise caution when it comes to prescription drug use because, Coronato said, prescription painkiller abuse is often a precursor to heroin addiction and abuse.
Coronato’s warning came during a conference call with NJ state representatives who are concerned about the rise in the total number of drug overdoses in South Jersey.
So far in 2016, 120 Ocean County residents have suffered fatal overdoses on opioids. That’s more than the total number of drug overdose deaths in Ocean County during the entirety of 2015. Local officials anticipate that the final tally of heroin and prescription drug overdose deaths by the end of 2016 could be as high as 160. During a three-week period earlier this summer, 20 people overdosed on heroin in Ocean County.
Robert Bernardi, the Burlington County prosecutor, said that South Jersey law enforcement may want to seek help from the federal government in the battle against drug addiction. Recent guidelines handed down by federal health officials have made it clear that prescription drug abuse is a nationwide problem.
One of the major difficulties faced by law enforcement and doctors when combatting the heroin epidemic in Ocean County and elsewhere is that the illegal drugs being sold by street-level dealers are often laced with more powerful narcotics like fentanyl, which is 100 times more powerful than morphine. When the drug user takes the drugs without realizing their potency, the end result can be a fatal overdose.
For more information, view the Toms River Patch article, “120 Heroin OD Deaths in 2016 in Ocean County and Toll Will Rise Further, Prosecutor Says.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with heroin possession, illegal possession of prescription drugs, or any other drug offense in New Jersey, you need talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Lombardi and Lombardi, P.A. will help you fight your drug crime charges. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.