The State Attorney’s Office in Orange and Osceola counties is announcing the formation of a narcotics unit to fight the opioid epidemic she says has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an announcement outside the Osceola County Courthouse, State Attorney Monique Worrell said the collaborative effort is needed to address overdose deaths and prosecute those who prey on the addicted.
“We will not tolerate these organizations overtaking our communities,” she said. “We are going to be targeting these individuals and dismantling these drug organizations for the betterment of our community.”
Worrell said the group of prosecutors will be dedicated to dismantling major drug traffickers while also offering alternative programs for those who are exploited by those organizations.
“History has taught us that we cannot use broad strokes to address this drug epidemic,” Worrell said. “Some people will go to prison; however incarceration alone has not and cannot be the only solution.”
The announcement came with a partnership from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the St. Cloud and Kissimmee police departments, who were part of the recently dissolved Osceola County Investigative Bureau.
“I think it’s critical for us to have that smaller group to then have kind of a laser focus on those plaguing our communities with drug sales, violence and everything associated with it,” Kissimmee Police Chief Jeffrey O’Dell said.
With more than 250 overdose deaths in the last year, Worrell said more needs to be done to address a growing problem that’s not easily solved.
“We understand that no one agency or entity can address this problem independently, but that we must all work together collectively for the good of our community,” Worrell said.