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21 Arrested in NJ Operation ‘That’s All Folks’

Cropped image of policemen arresting criminal

Operation That’s All Folks centered in Cumberland County, New Jersey.

Out of this investigation that took place over several months, 21 people were arrested on firearm- and drug-related charges. In total, the operation yielded seizure of 10 guns, crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, and more than $12,000 in cash. The arrests and seizures took place over a week at the end of last month and the first few days of this month, and represented the collaboration of 11 different law enforcement organizations at local, state, and federal levels. Charges included:

  • Conspiracy to possess drugs with the intent to distribute
  • Drug possession
  • Drug possession with intent to distribute
  • Unlawful possession of a handgun
  • Unlawful selling of firearm
  • Possession of a firearm while committing a drug offense
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Unlawful possession of weapons
  • Possession of a handgun without a permit
  • Conspiracy to sell a firearm
  • Drug possession within 500 feet of public housing
  • Outstanding warrant
  • Violation of a drug offender restraining order
  • Possession of a stun gun

One More Down

Operation That’s All Folks marks one more endeavor on the part of law enforcement to disrupt the flow of drugs to the streets. While this effort is to be respected, the fact is that many will be back to their old habits within a few months, and others will rise up in their place to fill the void and connect people who are struggling with addiction with their substance of choice.

It is an ongoing back and forth struggle that has been happening for decades, and as we continue to see overdose rates rise, it is essential that we as a nation work together to create a new plan if we are to see positive change. Something must happen to change the status quo if we are going to connect the many people who are living with addiction with treatment and prevent young people from developing an addiction that could be life-threatening.

Assessing Where We Are

In order to know how to proceed, we must first take a look at where we are – and where we are is not good, especially here at home. In New Jersey, overdose death rates are triple that of the national average. The number of people who died in New Jersey from 2010 to 2013 due to drug overdose is higher than the number of deaths caused by car accident, homicide, AIDS, and suicide. This constitutes a crisis of the highest order, and it demands immediate and intensive attention.

First Things First

In order to lower the rates of overdose, we must be able to intervene effectively when an overdose strikes. Because opiate overdose specifically is such a huge problem, increasing access to naloxone, a drug that can effectively overturn an opiate overdose and stop it from becoming fatal, is essential. This means putting the drug into the hands of first responders as well as into the hands of friends and loved ones who may be on hand to help someone in need.

Another way to mitigate the overdose rate now is to get people into treatment who are actively seeking help. Too often, costs are too high and/or waiting lists are too long to accommodate the many people who are ready to begin the process of recovery. This, too often, heartbreakingly ends in overdose despite a genuine desire to heal. Increasing treatment options and making sure that treatment is affordable for all are essential. The best way to do this is to vote in budgetary changes that will augment state and federal funding for treatment programs and bulk up requirements for health insurance companies to cover the full cost of treatment.

Prevention Efforts

Once we are stopping overdoses, connecting people in need with treatment, and lowering the rates of overdose today, we must then turn our attention to keeping overdose rates down tomorrow as well. This comes through intensive prevention efforts geared not just toward young people who may naively experiment with addictive substances but also toward middle-aged and senior adults who may inadvertently develop addictions to their medications or accidentally combine the wrong substances.

Increased awareness, sharing stories of people who have survived addiction, and other efforts to lower rates of drug use and addiction will pay off over time.