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The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, through its Let's Face Heroin Campaign, is working to raise awareness in the community on the signs of heroin abuse and the resources available to those seeking help. Visit www.letsfaceheroin.com to learn more.
A Deadly Epidemic
Cuyahoga County is facing an epidemic of heroin deaths. As recently as 2007, there were 40 fatal heroin overdoses in the county according to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Yet by 2013, that number had climbed to 195 fatalities.
This is a shocking 400% increase in fatalities in the span of only a few years, and exceeds the number of people killed with guns in our county in 2013. In addition to this alarming statistic, drug abuse violations are the most charged crime in four out of five Cleveland regions, and the second most charged crime in the fifth.
In the Prosecutor’s Office, we see the direct correlation between drug use and other crime. Burglaries and other property offenses are often tied to heroin use, and are growing trends not only in the city of Cleveland but in the outlying suburbs. Heroin trafficking has become a focus of our Major Drug Offense Unit. In September 2013, our office worked with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate a raid that netted nearly ninety heroin dealers -- Northeast Ohio’s largest takedown of heroin traffickers. In October 2013, more than 30 people were indicted on heroin trafficking and related charges.
While we relentlessly pursue those who profit from the pain and death of others, that is not enough. We work with the Court to steer non-violent, qualifying users into treatment whenever possible. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office is also part of a broad coalition of public and private partners working to raise awareness of the dangers of heroin.
Our Community Organizes for Action
On November 21, 2013, more than 600 public officials, medical and legal professionals, educators, addiction specialists and individuals whose lives have been impacted by heroin gathered at the Cleveland Clinic for a day-long discussion of Cuyahoga County’s opiate epidemic.
The Heroin Summit was organized by the Clinic and the office of Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. Presenters laid out the human dimensions of the crisis in often stark terms and discussed solutions from various perspectives, including law enforcement.
Deborah Naiman, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in charge of the Major Drug Operations Unit was part of the panel discussing police and prosecution strategies. She spoke of the need to balance treatment for addicts with punishment for those who sell poison for profit.
Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Michael John Ryan at the Summit