NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – A growing Nassau County population is seeing a rise in drug overdose deaths. Sheriff Bill Leeper told News4Jax that half of them involve fentanyl.
“It looks like there’s a bad batch of drugs going around,” he said.
While there is no one spot in the county where the drugs are concentrated, the sheriff said the numbers countywide are concerning.
“We’ve always had drug issues here, but the numbers of the overdoses today are far greater than in the past for some reason,” he said.
The county reported four drug overdose deaths in the last three days and nine deaths so far this year. In 2020, there were 24 deaths, and 16 of them were fentanyl related -- the highest they’ve had in several years.
The department’s last major drug bust was in January, when investigators arrested a man just released from prison for selling drugs.
“We’re always looking at who’s dealt drugs in the past. It seems the drugs are coming from Mexico, going up to the Atlanta area and filtering back down into this area,” said Leeper.
Though it takes time identifying and tracking where these drugs came from, people are dying at higher rates, especially during the pandemic, authorities said.
“It could be a correlation there. But a lot of people in our community need help,” he said. “They’re just trying to sell drugs. They really don’t care what’s in it. They just want to make money, and they don’t care what happens to you after you buy it.”
The sheriff said it’s mostly white males in their 40s who have been dying from fentanyl-laced drugs.
He urged those buying illegal drugs to get help instead. The drug addiction hotline number is 1-800-662-4357.
Awakening-Nassau is an addiction treatment center that can be reached at 904-432-8798. First Coast Recover Advocates is another resource to help people struggling with substance abuse.
Leeper also said if you’re caught selling drugs and a person dies from them, you can be charged with homicide.