Battling the Opioid Epidemic

Battling the Opioid Epidemic

Standing Up for New Jerseyans

Substance abuse devastates families and communities. Attorney General Platkin is focused on ridding our cities and towns of dangerous drugs. Strong partnerships between local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies are crucial in this battle and the State is committed to providing law enforcement with the necessary resources to save lives.

Expanding Operation RISE. The Office of the Attorney General, through NJ CARES—the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies—is focused on battling the opioid crisis by investing in resources and providing support to people battling with addictionand substance abuse disorders.NJSP, through the NJ CARES initiative Operation Helping Hand (OHH), has expanded Operation RISE (Recovery, Initiative, Support, and Engagement), a program in which law enforcement officers proactively connect individuals suffering from substance use disorder with treatment and/or recovery support services. Operation RISE is the newest expansion of the Department’s OHH program, and, in early 2023, Operation RISE began collaborating with existing OHH outreach efforts to ensure the efficient deployment of resources to areas that are most in need of assistance and intervention.

Initiating innovative programing. 2023 brought a joint effort between NJ CARES and DCA to provide dozens of New Jersey hospice and long-term care facilities with drug disposal bags, a safe and easy way to dispose of leftover medications, preventing opioids from being diverted or misused after they are no longer needed for a patient. Other drug prevention efforts include an additional $5 million in federal funds for the NJSP Methamphetamine Eradication and Opioid Enforcement Task Forces to support training and equipment to disrupt the production and distribution of illicit drugs across New Jersey. Additionally, federal funds are allowing law enforcement to locate or investigate illicit activities through statewide collaboration relating to the distribution of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and to the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids.

Holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable. In 2023, all 21 counties and 241 municipalities in New Jersey eligible for direct distributions joined the State in signing onto nationwide settlement agreements with pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, and drug makers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan, to resolve claims involving their alleged roles in fomenting the country’s opioid crisis. As a result, New Jersey and its eligible counties and municipalities will receive the maximum amount available to the State under the settlements: about $508.1 million. The settlements were the latest in a number of multistate accords resolving nationwide claims against drug makers and pharmacies for their alleged roles in the opioid addiction epidemic.

Prosecuting those who fuel the crisis. Five people were charged by OIFP in an 80-count indictment for their alleged participation in a statewide prescription drug theft scheme spanning 11 counties. The OIFP Medicaid Fraud Control Unit partnered with federal, state, and local authorities to pursue individuals who stole prescription blanks, and forged physicians’ signatures.

Battling the Opioid Epidemic

Dismantling heroin mills. NJSP, DCJ, and PPD made several arrests of individuals in a series of investigations targeting crime in Paterson. Those investigations resulted in the seizure of 10 illegal guns and 17 large capacity ammunition magazines, along with the takedown of a drug manufacturing facility operating in Paterson, where multiple kilos of cocaine, heroin, and crystal methamphetamine were seized. In another case, about three and a half pounds of suspected fentanyl powder and over 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills with an estimated combined street value of nearly $1 million were among the narcotics seized when a search warrant was executed in Paterson. In a separate team effort, the NJSP and the Pennsylvania State Police worked together to track down an Atlantic County man charged with selling fentanyl-laced imitation Percocet pills that killed two teens in Pennsylvania in August 2022. The suspect is charged with two counts of strict liability for a drug-induced death in the deaths of a 17-year-old Sea Isle City teen and a 14-year-old Landenberg, Pennsylvania teen, who died of drug overdoses on August 17, 2022.