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Fentanyl Overdoses the Cause for Multiple Overdose Deaths in Atlantic County

Atlantic County

In Atlantic County and nationwide drug overdose deaths connected to Fentanyl continue to rise, according to the latest data available to law enforcement, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Cary Shill announced. 

In 2020, Atlantic County saw 105 fentanyl-related deaths out of 144 reported overdose deaths. In 2021, Atlantic County saw 142 drug overdose deaths and in 102 of those fatal overdoses, Fentanyl was a factor. Atlantic County has seen 56 overdose deaths so far in 2022.

“It is paramount that law enforcement, community leaders and citizens have regular conversations about the opioid pandemic and increase in fatal overdoses.

I am very proud of the work our law enforcement partners are doing to fight the effects that drugs are having on the citizens and visitors of Atlantic County.

Law enforcement and community leaders in Atlantic County are committed to our fight to lower the number of overdoses and drug-related deaths through a combination of  Enforcement actions and treatment programs,” said Atlantic County Chief County Investigators Bruce K. DeShields.

According to national data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overall, drug overdose deaths rose from 2019 to 2020 with 91,799 drug overdose deaths reported in 2020.

Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) continued to rise with 56,516 overdose deaths reported in 2020.

Those involving psychostimulants with abuse potential (primarily methamphetamine) also continued to increase to 23,837 (Source: CDC WONDER).

The primary mission of the ACPO-Drug-Related Death (DRD) Squad is to assist local agencies with death investigations in cases when the cause of death is suspected to be an overdose of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS).

Suspects believed to have been responsible for providing the decedent with the fatal CDS will be investigated for the crime of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9, Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death, a crime of the First Degree.  

It is through the cooperation between responding Officers, investigating Detectives, and members of the ACPO-DRD Squad that these cases are promptly investigated and the integrity of the investigations are maintained.

There is a two-pronged focus to the ACPO-DRD Squad: prevention, by getting apparently deadly drugs off the street as soon as possible, and enforcement, by determining who distributed the drugs and charging them with homicide if and when possible. Every single case is reviewed by a detective, a supervisor and an assistant prosecutor.