DELRAY BEACH — Delray Beach Police arrested 10 suspected drug dealers Wednesday just as heroin-related overdoses and deaths in the city are skyrocketing.
The arrests came after undercover officers bought heroin from these dealers, most of whom are from Delray Beach, over the past few months, the department reports. Warrants were issued and the suspected dealers were taken into custody Wednesday.
The arrest were made as part of an ongoing operation called “Street Sweeper,” in which police are targeting local dealers. The operation has netted 55 arrests since last year, police say.
More sweeps are planned, according to the department.
The most recent arrests come as heroin-related overdoses and deaths have been increasing in the city, with April recording the highest number of overdoses this year at 75, according to police data.
Already in May there have been 49 overdoses, police say.
Six have been fatal, which police say is likely because of the powerful drug fentanyl being cut into heroin. The anti-overdose drug Narcan, which police and paramedics are equipped with, does little to reverse the effects of fentanyl, officials say.
The department has also arrested 35 people for possession of heroin this year.
These actions are part of a three-pronged approached ultimately aimed at reducing the number of drug overdoses.
“By focusing on enforcement, as well as education about heroin abuse and life-saving efforts such as Narcan, we are committed to reducing the number of overdose deaths in Delray Beach,” Chief Goldman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, with fentanyl on the streets, that’s easier said than done.”
The highest number of overdoses in the city was 88 in October.
The police action coincides with Delray’s revelation of plans to crack down on the unscrupulous sober home industry, which draws addicts to south county and has been corrupted by fast profits on unnecessary drug-screening tests charged to health insurers.
Sober homes are places where addicts live together and support one another after undergoing treatment to overcome addiction.
The city plans to adopt regulations that would force sober homes to voluntarily certify with a nonprofit that requires them to meet business and housing standards — or prove they meet those standards without certification; and limit the number of homes allowed to open in a given area.
Mayor Cary Glickstein told The Palm Beach Post that new regulations will likely curb the the number of overdoses throughout the city.
“I think that when these concentrations are reduced we’re also going to see the opioid-related overdoses drop,” Glickstein said. “It’s much easier for a drug dealer to sell heroin in a neighborhood that is all recovering addicts.”