DEA trains local law enforcement on drug overdose death investigations

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:40 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - The fight against fentanyl is growing as steps are being taken to save lives across the St. Louis area.

The DEA trained local and state law enforcement agencies on how to better investigate overdose deaths.

The St. Peters Police Department was one of 50 law enforcement agencies in that training. Chief Rick Struttmann says it’s important to learn how to better fight the fentanyl crisis.

“These types of instances where people are overdosing and dying cross all boundary lines of different communities and this training is about coming together as law enforcement,” Chief Struttmann says.

Chief Struttmann says the drug trends are constantly changing and impacting so many communities.

“There’s people preying on other people with all kinds of drugs in our community,” Chief Struttmann says. “It’s very important that we follow up in regards to those cases and we pursue those individuals that are involved with passing this poison onto our society.”

With 1,030 people across the Metro dying from a drug overdose in 2021, DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael Davis says he wouldn’t be surprised if that number is even higher in 2022.

“From just the amount of cases that we’re receiving, the amount of drug seizures that we’re getting in of fentanyl in powder form and pills and also fentanyl mixed in with other drugs,” Special Agent Davis says.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Saylor Fleming says by prosecuting people for dealing drugs that result in overdose deaths, it takes drug traffickers off the streets for longer periods of time. These types of cases have become a big priority for federal prosecutors.

“We’re able to send a message through prosecution,” Fleming says. “We can show them that we have our eye on them, that we are coming after them.”

Fleming says the U.S. Attorney’s Office is looking to hire a prosecutor specifically for these overdose death cases, which will allow the department to take more cases on.