BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in Erie County, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office continues to fight back against the drug suppliers.
The Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Unit has carried out 21 successful raids since January of this year, resulting in arrests and drug seizures.
“We have seized pounds of heroin; we have seized pounds of fentanyl; we’ve seized pounds of cocaine, and of course marijuana,” said Alan Rozansky, the Chief of Narcotics for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. “Marijuana is still the number one substance that’s coming into the Central Police Services Laboratory.”
But recently, Rozansky says, that lab has seen a new, disturbing drug mix coming in. In isolated cases, they’ve found fentanyl mixed in with cocaine. The results can be lethal.
“That’s the scary part, because as deadly as the fentanyl is, the fact that they would mix it with something like cocaine, where someone was unsuspecting, would certainly cause the death rate to increase,” Rozansky explained.
Too many people in Erie County have been dying from drug overdoses. In the first 109 days of 2017, there were 129 suspected overdose deaths across Buffalo, the suburbs, and the rural areas of the county.
The ten members of the Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Unit work closely with police agencies across the county, as well as the FBI and the DEA, to find and arrest suppliers. “By getting the suppliers, we’re going to have an effect,” Rozansky said. “These individuals that are selling it are people that make big profit. That’s what they’re worried about. They’re not worried about the deaths.”
Rozansky credits the different agencies’ hard work and cooperation with much of the success in the drug raids that have been carried out this year.
He says tackling the drug problem here will take a three pronged approach of enforcement, rehabilitation, and education, and he’s pleased to see the county giving more resources to those efforts.
Even so, fighting the crisis in Erie County can feel like an uphill battle, even as more search warrants are executed and drug dealers are brought to justice. “We know tomorrow there’s going to be somebody else,” Rozansky said. “It is gratifying making the arrest but we just go onto the next day.”
As the fight continues, Erie County residents are urged to do their part by submitting confidential tips to the Narcotics Tipline.
Call 716-858-7755 if you have any information regarding drug activity in your neighborhood. This phone number is in operation 24 hours a day. All calls are confidential. Please leave as detailed a message as possible.
You may also send a confidential tip online. No identifying information is required.
Erie County residents can submit tips through the Erie County Sheriff’s Office’s free smartphone app, as well.