HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — More than 1,000 Virginians died of an opioid overdose last year. Three people die every day in Virginia.
The startling statistics were shared Wednesday during an opioid summit held at Glenn Allen High School in Henrico.
Keynote speakers FBI director and former Henrico resident James Comey says the FBI, DEA and law enforcement cannot tackle this problem alone.
“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Comey said.
Comey says locking up drug users is not going to end the opioid epidemic that has killed more than 33,000 Americans in the since 2015.
“This is unprecedented, this is an epidemic,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, who joined Comey at the summit.
Rosenberg and Comey said Mexican drug traffickers have taken advantage of Americans addiction to painkillers.
“Mexican drug traffickers have been able to bring into our country huge amounts of heroin that is highly, highly pure and sell it for very, very cheap,” Comey explained.
It’s cheaper than pain pills and therefore enticing to those suffering from addiction. Both the FBI and DEA say they’re targeting the cartels and the dealers.
“Our job is to try to crack down on the supply to be very very blunt, to drive up the price and make it less and less attractive,” Rosenberg said.
Comey and Rosenberg reinforced that they alone will not end this epidemic, which is precisely why they are holding summits across the country. The group at Glen Allen High School was shown a documentary about the effect of opioids.
One suggestion that anyone can do at home is to empty those medicine cabinets of any old prescriptions and be on the lookout for local drug take-back programs.