Fentanyl Remains a Major Problem Across Florida

Drug Deaths Dropped, but Illegal Distribution Still Rampant

Recent trends surrounding fentanyl use and opioid drug-related deaths in Florida are a mixture of positive and negative indicators for public safety.

A report by Project Opioid. released last month cited CDC data showing that Florida saw a 2.6% decrease in drug overdoses in the latest available year-to-year comparison metrics (2021-2022). According to the report, the central Florida region saw some of the biggest reductions, with the largest drop seen in Brevard County, which saw a 49% decrease, while Seminole and Orange counties saw decreases of over 11%.

Florida’s progress in reducing overdose deaths came after opioid overdose deaths skyrocketed after the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. While the reduction in overdose deaths is encouraging, law enforcement and public safety officials remain highly concerned about the widespread distribution and use of opioids. During the past two months, multiple sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement agencies across Florida have seized fentanyl during coordinated efforts to reduce illegal distribution in communities.

Earlier this week, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey announced the arrest of a man who was allegedly trafficking enough fentanyl to Kill 3,350 people. Only two weeks ago, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced that 10 Kilograms of Fentanyl trafficked from Sinaloa, Mexico was seized during multi-agency drug trafficking organization investigation.

Last week, Florida Highway Patrol announced that Border Integrity Trafficking Enforcement (B.I.T.E.) Program and “Operation Safe Highways” have recovered more than eight pounds of Fentanyl during the past year.

“10 Kilograms is enough Fentanyl to kill 5 million people if taken in overdose amounts,” Judd said. “These drugs are extremely dangerous, and the people bringing them across an unsecure border are evil. Of the three men arrested during this investigation, two are in the country illegally and the Sinaloa Cartel drug trafficking organization is the source of supply for this poison. I am very thankful for our local, state, and national law enforcement partners, including state prosecutors Mr. Haas and Ms. Lopez, for working together to make this a successful investigation.” 

Last month, on the northeast coast of Florida, Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two individuals who were allegedly in possession of and trafficking 34.6 grams of fentanyl 22.8 grams of methamphetamines.

Back in September, Florida Highway Patrol troopers from the Criminal Interdiction Unit (CIU) in Orange County seized 300 bags of fentanyl and arrested four individuals. The arrests followed an investigation that resulted in the seizure of Heroin (10.28 grams), Cocaine (6.4 grams), and 34.29 grams of Fentanyl-equivalent to 17,145 fatal doses.

Two convicted traffickers of fentanyl were recently sentenced by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Last month, a Daytona Beach area fentanyl trafficker was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Javoris Edwards pled no contest to two counts of Trafficking in Fentanyl 28 grams or more, Conspiracy to Traffic in Fentanyl 28 grams or more and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During that same month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced that Tampa area fentanyl trafficker was sentenced to 25 Years in federal prison. Randell Alexander Love, 48, of Hillsborough County, Fla was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for possession of fentanyl with the intent to distribute it and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. 

A report recently released by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics showed that drug use among eighth graders between 2016 and 2020 increased by 61%. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody recently published a visual guide for parents of students to see some of the coded language that youth often use to describe drugs via emojis in text messages.