We hear a lot of talk about fentanyl these days and it’s possible we are becoming desensitized to the gravity of the situation. It’s important to remember how deadly this drug really is.
Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to discuss issues facing the county.
Fentanyl continues to be found in Monroe County. Last Thursday night, early Friday morning four ounces of fentanyl were seized.
Ward said, “That’s enough fentanyl to kill everybody in Monroe County. From what I get from the Centers for Disease Control and the DEA, the chemicals are produced in China and they are sent to Mexico and Mexico then packages it up and ships it across the border. As you know the border is in turmoil down there. So it’s a great time for the operatives to get these drugs across the border and what they’re doing from the latest thing that I read is they’re loading it into produce containers and taking it up to the biggest produce market on the east coast in the Bronx and then from there, it’s sent to these apartments in the area that are manned by Dominicans that put the final touches on it and that’s when you see it coming out on all different forms and types of drugs and drug use.”
Indeed, some of it looks like candy – colorful pills that resemble Skittles and SweeTARTS.
Add to that fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and the seriousness is obvious.
The two men that were arrested for having 4.1 ounces of fentanyl are facing 25 years in prison.
Ward said, “I know there’s a federal local task force working up in Dade County that is working on some of these issues up there and I think they’re close to busting the source because there’s sources everywhere, but I think from where these guys were coming from. It’s a very dangerous drug and you look around the country and I think it’s the 18 to 30 year old people that are being just destroyed by this drug.”
There’s more overdoses with these kind of drugs than there are traffic fatalities and gunshot fatalities combined.
“That’s how big it is,” Ward said.
One of the biggest issues is it’s difficult to tell what drugs are being laced with fentanyl. Often times the users have no idea and death can be instantaneous.
Ward said, “It’s just a devastating drug. We’re going at it very, very aggressively. If you’re caught down here distributing these drugs, you’re going to do some significant jail time. I guarantee you that.”
A Marathon man was arrested Monday with two ounces of cocaine, so that’s also still around the area as well.
Immigration also continues to be an issue.
Ward said, “I know we sat down with some of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) guys and Homeland Security people last week to discuss some measures that we may be taking up here in the near future.”
In terms of what happens to the immigrants, it kind of depends on where they are found.
Ward said, “You remember the old wet foot, dry foot policy? We have an informal wet foot, dry foot policy. Get on shore? There’s a great chance you’re going to be here. If people are paying these smugglers to bring these people from Cuba to our shores here, it’s a dangerous journey. Just send them some air fare and let them go to Mexico and walk across the border. There’s a lot of Cubans walking across the border there and it’s far safer, I would imagine.”
A lobster theft case in the upper Keys could result in third degree felony charges and some jail time.
Ward said, “There’s all kinds of different third degree felonies. When you’re out here robbing traps, you know my office is going to be looking for some jail time.”
There have also been crimes committed by teenagers recently, including a car theft and terroristic threats.
Ward said, “I think the teens and the car, I think they ended up up here. I think at least one of them is going to be charged as an adult. You don’t want to make terroristic threats out here because we take it very, very seriously. The Sheriff’s office and my office work very, very good in these situation, as well as the US police department. We’re just not going to tolerate threats like that. We take them seriously. You have to take them seriously.”
A teen that is charged as an adult will not have their records expunged at 18 and that will likely follow them for a while.
Ward said, “They see these things on their video games. This is not a game. We’re not playing a game out here. You want to do that? Go to a big city. Go to Miami. Go to Chicago. Go to New York. Have fun. Knock yourself out. Don’t do it down here. We love our residents and our visitors (and want them) to be very, very safe.”