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Alarming Number of People Overdosing on Opiates in Broward
- New GIS map pinpoints location, gender, and age -

DATE: April 5, 2017
Craig Mallak, M.D.,Chief Medical Examiner
Office of Medical Examiner and Trauma Services


BROWARD COUNTY, FL - An alarming number of people are dying from drug overdoses in Broward County. After compiling an extensive amount of data, the Office of Medical Examiner and Trauma Services has announced that 582 people lost their lives to drugs in Broward in 2016, more than double the amount in 2014, and up by 260 deaths from 2015. This data is much more compelling when you look at the newly created interactive GIS map that displays the location, age, gender, and type of drug used.

The latest trend among drug dealers is to lace or replace heroin with fentanyl, carfentanil, and other cheaply made synthetic drugs. In some cases, fentanyl and various synthetics are being laced with other illicit drugs like cocaine, or prescription medications like Xanax. In South Florida, someone overdoses on these powerful drugs every two hours.

Fentanyl is a synthethic and many times more potent than heroin. It's used under very controlled conditions in small amounts for hospital procedures such as colonoscopies. Carfentanil is also a synthetic that is so potent that a just a few salt sized grains can sedate a 6000 to 13,000 pound elephant. It's estimated to be 100 to 1000 times more potent than heroin.. It is not used to treat humans.

In many cases, users of these deadly fentanyl and hundreds of other fentanyl derivatives have no idea their drug of choice contains a deadly combination until it's too late.

In the first six months of 2016, 199 drug overdoses were reported in Broward, but by the second half of the year, fentanyl and other drug use had become so endemic that the number had increased by another 383 cases.

"If you're buying heroin or cocaine, or any drug on the streets for that matter, it could be laced with carfentanil or other deadly opiates, and if it is, there's a very high chance you will die," said Dr. Craig Mallak, Chief Medical Examiner. More than 100 drug overdose deaths in 2016 were associated with carfentanil.  

The GIS mapping tool, created by the County's Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Department is being used locally by the Broward Sheriff's office and other fire, medical, and police personnel to develop policies and procedures to stem the tide of this growing epidemic and to determine where to best allocate resources.

Attached below you'll find a chart with a breakdown of the deaths by drug, age, gender and location.

About Medical Examiner and Trauma Services    
The Office of the Medical Examiner and Trauma Services brings expert and independent medical evaluation to the investigation of deaths that are of concern to public health, safety and welfare of the community. The Office investigates cases of persons who die within its District 17 jurisdictional boundaries from criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly when in apparent good health, when not recently treated by a physician, while incarcerated or in any suspicious or unusual manner.  The Office also approves the cremations of persons who die within Broward County or are transported to Broward County for the purpose of cremation after death in another state or country. For more information, call 954-357-5200.

About Planning and Development Management              
Planning and Development Management
manages the County's sustainability initiatives including renewable energy and climate resiliency; manages redevelopment planning initiatives including the Broward County Land Development Code and elements of the Broward County Comprehensive Plan; participates in municipal and unincorporated area redevelopment including Complete Streets; and oversees site plan review and compliance with community standards in the unincorporated areas through enforcement of applicable zoning codes and regulations. The Division also evaluates rezoning requests, land use plan amendments and land use compatibility reviews; maintains demographic and economic databases; conducts research and analyses; and coordinates the County's Geographic Information System (GIS) program, including application development.

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