BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. — A record number of drug trafficking investigations involving fentanyl were reported in Bumcombe County last year, the Bumcombe County Sheriff's Office reports.
In 2021, the Bumcombe County Anti-Crime Task Force (BCAT) seized a total of 39 pounds of methamphetamine and 6.2 pounds of opioids, which were both record amounts, the sheriff's office reports.
What You Need To Know
- The Bumcombe County Sheriff's Office is reporting a record number of drug trafficking charges: 81 fentanyl trafficking charges last year, surpassing the previous high of 37 that was set in 2020
- Fentanyl, according to the CDC, is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine
- More than eight people in North Carolina overdosed and died each day in 2020, according to NCDHHS.
- The sheriff's office says the uptick of fentanyl and meth seizures and trafficking arrests follows a shift in strategy under Sheriff Quentin Miller, which focused on high-level drug activity
The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office reported 81 fentanyl trafficking charges last year, surpassing the previous high of 37 that was set in 2020. Meth trafficking charges have also risen sharply.
Fentanyl, according to the CDC, is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Deputies say the drug has almost exclusively replaced heroin as the opioid most commonly sold by drug dealers in Buncombe County.
"It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.” the CDC says.
The sheriff's office says the uptick of fentanyl and meth seizures and trafficking arrests follows a shift in strategy under Sheriff Quentin Miller beginning last spring.
“In May of 2020, Sheriff Miller directed the Buncombe County Anti-Crime Task Force to focus their resources on identifying, investigating, arresting and prosecuting those individuals who are engaging in high-level drug trafficking operations in Buncombe County," said Major John Ledford. "These efforts have focused on the most dangerous drugs to include fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin and have led to record seizures."
More than eight people in North Carolina overdosed and died each day in 2020, according to NCDHHS. Between April 2020 and April 2021, overdose deaths in North Carolina spiked by 37%, according to reporting by NC Health News.
The sheriff's office hopes to help people struggling with addiction to opioids through a Medication Assisted Treatment drug treatment program at the detention facility.
"We’re proud to offer this program to our community members who are ready to enter into treatment," Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller said. However, for high-level drug traffickers, let me be absolutely clear, we are not going to allow fentanyl to be brought into our community without the sheriff’s office doing our best to arrest those responsible for distributing this poison."
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office also seized 3.8 pounds of cocaine and 1,082 doses of Xanax/Alprazolam last year. Twenty-nine firearms were also seized in 2021 as a result of investigations into drug trafficking.
Deputies say the stats regarding drug trafficking charges include only BCSO arrests based on charges made by BCSO.