Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was in Norfolk Friday to talk about the fight against opioid and heroin abuse in the Commonwealth.
Herring’s talk was part of the Virginia Sheriff’s Institute Spring Conference. More than 1,000 people died in Virginia last year from opioid and heroin overdoses and 277 of those deaths were in Hampton Roads.
Herring says the newest numbers show opioid abuse is increasing rapidly in the Commonwealth, and is now at a rate greater than deaths from traffic accidents.
“The law enforcement community has really stepped up and we have stepped up our prosecution but we all know we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” said Herring.
His team cracked 75 cases involving more than 375 pounds of heroin, which has a street value of $17 million. Herring says education, prevention and treatment are vital to stopping the problem.
“Too many children [are] growing up without a mom or dad and too many parents who have to grow up without a child. Here in Hampton Roads, it has been hit just as hard as anywhere.”
On the same day Herring visited Hampton Roads regarding the opioid epidemic, several lawmakers released a statement about more funding for the drug war.
Both Senator Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that Virginia will receive $9,762,332 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat the opioid epidemic, which kills an average of three Virginians daily.
“These funds will help Virginia respond to the epidemic of opioid abuse that has devastated communities across the Commonwealth,” the senators said. “Addressing this crisis and stemming the alarming rise in overdose deaths will require a sustained focus on prevention and increased access to opioid addiction treatment.”