Documentary features central Ohio's battle against opiate epidemic


A documentary series examining the nation's opiate crisis will bring viewers to the front lines in central Ohio. Ohio law enforcement said the epidemic has fueled unprecedented cooperation and information sharing between agencies.

"I think that's what really made Columbus stand out," said Franklin County Deputy Chief Rick Minerd. "Here in the last few years, fentanyl and carfentanyl have really been a game changer."

The documentary takes viewers from the poppy fields in Mexico to lives destroyed by addiction in Central Ohio. Viewers will get an inside look at the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to stop the flow of illegal drugs.

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent In Charge, Steve Francis, said the agency has doubled its efforts in Ohio.

Federal resources designated to stop drug smuggling have increased from 25 percent to 50 percent in the Buckeye state. In 2017, Ohio law enforcement seized nearly 110 pounds of cocaine, 98 pounds of heroin, and more than 100 pounds of deadly fentanyl/carfentanyl.

"And only about 20 pounds of fentanyl can really wipe out the state of Ohio," said Francis.

Chief Minerd says central Ohio law enforcement is trying to help low-level offenders by partnering with educators, drug treatment and recovery centers, mental health providers, emergency rooms, even family support groups.

Minerd said he's hopeful the documentary will inspire more people to become part of the solution.

"What I hope is that people realize that this stuff is everywhere. It's affecting every community. And so, we need everybody's help," said Minerd.

Francis said law enforcement faces the daunting task of blocking fentanyl deliveries to the United States from Mexico and China.

He said nationwide, thousands of drug packages are seized every single day, but still the overdose death toll in Ohio is expected to climb in 2018.

"Where are we gonna go? I think it's going to take time before we start to see a decline, unfortunately," said Francis.