BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — East Baton Rouge officials say that it is only two months into the new year and the parish is already on track to match the number of opioid and other drug-related overdose deaths in 2020.
Staggering stats like these pushed the Drug Enforcement Administration to launch a new initiative called Operation Engage.
Special agent in charge Brad Byerley says, “Right now nationally, we are losing about 220 people a day to overdose.”
As a result, they planned to zone in on specific communities and areas that are experiencing these heavy amounts of drug trafficking.
“We will then target maybe certain areas, based upon the intelligence gathering from areas where you’re seeing more of an uptick in violence or maybe seeing more street-level drug activity,” said Byerley.
They say this initiative could not be accomplished alone.
DEA is partnering with various organizations around Baton Rouge.
Byerley says, “Everyone has been very willing and forthcoming with resources to help us actually put Operation Engage in gear.”
He added, “This Operation Engage is an initiative by the DEA it’s a two-prong initiative, whereas we are focused on law enforcement, which is what we do best, and community outreach”
EBR officials are also determined to do their part in the effort to bring relief to communities.
DA Hillar Moore said in a statement, “These are bright people with great families in unfortunate situations. By using the data and uniting our efforts, we can reduce these numbers and give people their lives back.”
The DEA aims to help save as many lives as possible through the elimination of drug threats within the community.
The new strategy, Operation Engage, is built on and replaced the DEA’s 360 strategy, and allowed field divisions to customize plans and direct resources to target these distressed areas.