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Federal officials announce new strategy for opioid prevention

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NEWARK -

Federal officials in Newark today are announcing a new strategy for opioid prevention.

According to federal authorities, an estimated 70,000 people died last year nationwide because of the opioid epidemic.

One of the places hit hard is Newark, and today, federal officials with the DEA and US Attorney’s Office announced a new strategy that melds enforcement, outreach and accountability in the medical field.

It's called the 360 strategy.

“There's one thing the DEA does very well: drug enforcement,” says Valerie Nickerson, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “But we recognize this issue is much larger and more complex and enforcement alone is not enough to make lasting changes. DEA will rely and expand upon all our resources to continue the expanding relationships we have with our law enforcement allies.”

The strategy used nationwide helps cities dealing with the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, which has led to rising crime.

According to the DEA, many of its efforts will focus on community outreach, but part of it involves holding those in the medical community accountable.

Those who are overprescribing could see their ability to prescribe medicine taken away or, in cases with kickback allegations, there's a possibility for jail time.

Part of the strategy also means attacking the supply of drugs, the dealers and those further up the supply chain, going after and arresting those who deal heroin and fentanyl on the street.

Mayor Ras Barak says the illicit drug market is a major source of the violence on city streets.

Officials like Mayor Baraka noted today drug addiction and violence are not new problems in Newark.

In fact, the city had been struggling with them for decades.

The city still welcomes the focus of the federal government and other outside law enforcement agencies to fight addiction in the broader context of the opioid battle.

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