Colorado Receives Over $6,000,000 In Grant Awards To Combat Opioid Crisis
DENVER – The Justice Department as part of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, announced that Colorado will receive $6,227,854 in funds to combat the opioid crisis. This comes at a time when the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office is taking a comprehensive approach to fighting illegally dispensed prescription drugs. Nationally, the Department issued over $320 million to address the opioid crisis. The unprecedented funding will directly help those most impacted by the deadliest drug crisis in American history, including victims, children, families, and first responders.
In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, an increase from the 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl and its analogues.
October marks two important anti-drug events: Red Ribbon Week and National Prescription Drug Takeback Day. Red Ribbon Week takes place every year between October 23-31 and encourages students, parents, schools, and communities to promote drug-free lifestyles. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 27 aims to provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent overdose deaths and drug addictions before they start. DOJ expanded on DEA’s Drug Takeback Days and collected more than 2.7 million pounds of expired or unused prescription drugs since April 2017.
Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program to support our nation’s law enforcement officers and other first responders: The City of Longmont — $499,922
Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program to provide staffing and treatment resources within our nation’s jails and upon reentry to the community: Boulder County — $861,569
Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program to support public safety by information sharing by leveraging information from a variety of public health and safety data sources: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment — $1,000,000
Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program to facilitate collaborations among criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse programs: CO-MO Boulder County — $346,512
Enhancing Community Responses To the Opioid Crisis: Serving Our Youngest Crime Victims to help youth impacted by the opioids crisis: Illuminate Colorado — $749,491
Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program: Southern Ute Indian Tribe — $327,822
Veterans Treatment Courts: Colorado Judicial Department — $1,581,248
Drug Treatment Courts to Enhance Existing Family Drug Courts: Colorado Judicial Department — $861,290
In response to the opioid crisis, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado has taken a novel approach to identify and pursue those prescribers and pharmacies whose abuses contribute to the opioid epidemic in Colorado. First, the office created an internal Opioid Initiative Working Group, with attorneys and staff members from both the Criminal and Civil Divisions, that works strategically to make the most of the office’s civil and criminal tools and expertise. Second, the office has undertaken a unique project to gather, combine, and analyze extensive data to identify unlawful conduct by prescribers and pharmacies.
This opioid working group has prioritized gathering and analyzing data to identify possible patterns of overprescribing and drug diversion. A primary goal is to use data to determine potential targets whose conduct may be unlawful and where pursuit of that target would have a significant impact on opioid abuse in Colorado.
The group has worked to identify “red flags” in the data that might show that a prescriber or pharmacy was writing or filling a medically unnecessary prescription. For example, analysis of the data allowed us to identify prescribers and pharmacies that prescribe or fill the largest number of pills for highly abused prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, or fentanyl.
“The Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office is a national leader in using data to identify those in the opioid supply chain who cause the most harm to our citizens, and bringing them to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.
The Attorney General has been resolute in the fight against the drug crisis in America. The Department assigned more than 300 federal prosecutors to U.S. Attorney’s offices and hired more than 400 DEA task force officers; announced the formation of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, a new program to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas; and created a new data analytics program called the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit to assist 12 prosecutors sent to drug “hot spot districts.” In addition, the Department charged more than 3,000 defendants with trafficking in heroin, fentanyl, or prescription drugs in FY 2017, announced the first-ever indictments of Chinese nationals for fentanyl trafficking, and scheduled variants of fentanyl to prevent illicit drug labs from circumventing the law. In addition, DOJ executed the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action charging more than 600 defendants and proposed rules consistent with President Trump’s “Safe Prescribing Plan,” requiring a reduction of ten percent in 2019 in manufacturing quotas. The Department dismantled AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet and has already generated prosecutions in the fight against online drug trafficking through the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team (J-CODE).
OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking. More information about OJP and its components can be found at: www.ojp.gov.
WE WANT TO THANK ALL THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE DEDICATED THEIR LIVES TO KEEPING OUR COUNTRY SAFE.