A federal initiative, which began one year ago, has resulted in the prosecution of 30 deaths in Maine caused by opioid drug overdoses, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Maine was one of 10 areas across the nation targeted by Operation S.O.S. (Synthetic Opioid Surge) as an area with one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the nation.

Operation S.O.S. was created by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and its mission was to reduce the supply of deadly, synthetic opioids in high impact areas.

“The Department of Justice’s efforts have resulted in countless successes from California to Maine,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in statement. “We have successfully sought enhanced sentences in cases that resulted in deadly overdoses, and we have boosted cooperation among the partners involved. There remains much work to be done, but Operation S.O.S. (Synthetic Opioid Surge) marks a crucial turning point in the fight against synthetic opioids.”

Rosen said attorneys and law enforcement agents have successfully disrupted the networks engaged in the trafficking of synthetic opioids.

According to a report from the Maine Attorney General’s Office, total fatalities attributed to drugs during the first quarter of 2019 was 74 – slightly lower than they were during the first quarter of 2018. The report said that 67 of those deaths were caused by accidental overdoses, with the remaining seven deaths suicides.

The report states that the high number of fatal overdoses continues to be driven by non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.

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