Gwinnett DA targeting illegal opioid dealers

Gwinnett County's District Attorney is addressing what she sees as a prevalent criminal issue in her jurisdiction

DA Patsy Austin-Gatson said Wednesday her office is cracking down on illegal opioid distributors by targeting the people responsible for creating and distributing the drugs in Gwinnett. 

Austin-Gatson said she wants to send a message to the community that she values the lives of every Gwinnett County resident and will not tolerate those who seek to make a profit off the lives of others.


"We are increasingly seeing cases where drug distributors are creating ‘press pills’ to resemble legitimate pharmaceutical pills such as oxycodone or hydrocodone," Austin-Gatson said. "While these press pills will look exactly like the real pills, they are composed predominately of fentanyl and cause serious complications and death. Additionally, we are seeing a large amount of heroin being sold that contains little or no actual heroin and is in fact fentanyl."

According to data from the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office, at least 66 deaths were determined to be caused by a drug-related overdose in 2019.

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The DA's office said 25 — approximately 38% — of those deaths were due to fentanyl overdoses. The Gwinnett County Police Department reported 725 overdoses with 59 deaths in 2020.

The DA's office said it's secured indictments on three individuals for felony murder and other charges where the evidence shows that the defendants knowingly distributed drugs in Gwinnett County that contained fentanyl and cause a person's death. 

Austin-Gatson said she anticipates future indictments for similar offenses.

"Through targeted prosecution of manufacturers and distributors of illegal opioids, our office is sending a clear message to the community that we value the lives of every Gwinnett County resident and will not tolerate those who seek to make a profit off the lives of others," Austin-Gatson said in a statement.

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