Ohioans Testify on Devastating Impact of the Drug Epidemic

May 25, 2017 | Press Releases

Newtown, Ohio Police Chief and Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Discuss Need to Pass Bipartisan STOP Act

WASHINGTON, D.C – Newtown, Ohio Police Chief Thomas Synan, Jr. and Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson testified before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) hearing on stopping illicit drugs from being shipped into the United States.  U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), as PSI Chairman, had the opportunity to ask questions of both witnesses regarding their experiences combating the opioid crisis, the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, and more.

Excerpts can be found below and video can be found here.

Of Police Chief Synan, Portman asked if the STOP Act’s objective to help create a chokepoint where law enforcement would better be able to detect these drugs coming into our country, and he replied:

Yes, Senator Portman. It would definitely help cutting off that supply. There is very little risk for the dealers right now. There’s quite a lot of reward. The problem with it coming through the mail is that it’s not like in the 80s with the crack, where you had major gangs that were mostly pushing the crack cocaine, and once you identify the gang, you cut the head off the snake, the rest of it collapses. Here it’s everywhere with hundreds of dealers and not necessarily in a network or sourced in one area. So it makes it very difficult for enforcement… Not only is the chokepoint important but we also have to work on the issue of having those people who are addicted get long term care in order to reduce the demand. Once you reduce demand then you’ll reduce supply.”

When asked by Senator Portman what his projections were for the toll of the opioid epidemic in Cuyahoga County in 2017 compared to previous years, Dr. Gilson said:

The crisis is going to get worse. We’re projecting an increase from 660 total deaths up to close to 800. I think most of that is going to be driven again by fentanyl. … If carfentanil becomes the new fentanyl in 2017 I shudder to think how much worse it can be.”

When asked where these drugs are coming from, Dr. Gilson confirmed to Senator Portman that they were largely coming through the mail system from countries overseas, primarily from China:

My investigators will sometimes find computer records, packaging that clearly shows that these drugs are coming from overseas. And the concept that a lot of these drugs are coming from China is something that our DEA liaisons completely support. … These are drugs that are coming from overseas, primarily from China, and they are being sold in our country really on a basis that could be considered an act of terrorism.”

Chief Synan’s opening statement can be found here.

Dr. Gilson’s opening statement can be found here.