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Arizona, federal officials could crack down on small heroin dealers

(AP Photo/Carla K. Johnson)

PHOENIX — The fight against opioid addiction in Arizona is kicking into high gear.

At a summit Monday, 300 Arizona and federal law enforcement and health professionals discussed ways to fight Arizona’s growing opioid addiction problem.

One of the solutions proposed is the creation of a designated team headed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that would crack down on small-time dealers.

“Generally speaking, DEA only goes after the biggest and the baddest drug traffickers in the world,” Special agent in charge Doug Coleman said. “… The Heroin Enforcement Action Team is going to get down to the very low level.

“We’re going to try and track, directly, the person that gives the lethal dose to the overdose victim.”

The director of the Arizona Department of Health Services said the possible creation of the team is welcome news.

“[Opioid addiction] is becoming a bigger and bigger problem,” Dr. Cara Christ said. “In 2015, we had over 600 deaths in Arizona due to opioid abuse and we expect that number to climb.”

Editor’s note: KTAR News 92.3 FM will air a special on Arizona’s opioid addiction, “Hooked Rx: From Prescription to Addiction” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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