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Baltimore's Opioid Epidemic: Police Fighting An Uphill Battle

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- A team of five detectives will try to to tackle Baltimore's opioid epidemic by tracing drug deaths back to the dealer.

The City averaged more than two fatal overdoses a day in 2016, so now a team of five cops will focus on tracing the drugs back to the dealer to curb the deaths.

The opioid epidemic is the quiet killer that has been leaving a trail of bodies on the streets of Baltimore.

"The individuals that are putting these drugs on our street, they're killing people on our street," said deputy commissioner Dean Palmere of the Baltimore Police Department.

Drug overdoses is expected to have killed 2,000 people statewide in 2016 and more than 800 in Baltimore alone.

"There are more people dying from overdose here in Baltimore City, than there are dying of homicide," said Baltimore City health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in February.

The five detectives with backgrounds in homicide and narcotics will try to trace the supply chain back to the dealers.

This is another layer in response to Baltimore's opioid epidemic. First patrol officers will respond to overdose deaths. Then, the detectives will follow to try to build criminal cases by tactics such as using phone records and interviewing families.

"They're working directly with the DEA. They're working with other task force officers across the State, other agencies within the state of Maryland," Palmere said.

How the heroin is packaged, or how the opioid is packaged, is another clue.

They will link dangerous and deadly strains of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs back to the seller.

"They're involved in other criminal activities. The community should expect nothing less than for us to go after these individuals," Palmere said.

Police want to be clear they're not targeting drug users, only the people who supply them.

More than 1,000 Baltimore City patrol officers are also training with the DEA on how to respond to overdose scenes.

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