From January through March of this year, 154 people have been killed by Fentanyl in Montgomery County alone. The synthetic opiate claimed 251 lives in Montgomery County in 2016 due to accidental overdoses. As law enforcement struggles to fight the spread of addiction, News Center 7 has uncovered a new method of delivery criminals are using to get the powerful and illicit drug into every community in the Miami Valley: through the mail.
"Right now, the heroin epidemic: that consumes all of our time," says Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Captain Mike Brem.
Brem leads the Montgomery County RANGE Task Force, the agency on the front-line of the fight against drugs in the Dayton-area. A News Center 7 crew rode along with RANGE as they served a search warrant at a suspected drug house in Dayton recently. They were looking for Fentanyl. Officers and deputies with the task force moved up to a home on Elsmere Avenue in Dayton with guns drawn and their search warrant in hand. They came out with four suspects in handcuffs and Fentanyl from inside the house.
Mailboxes at vacant home is one of the new ways Fentanyl is getting into our area.
"If you shut down all the mail service in America for a day, you'd shut down more than half of the drug trafficking in America," said Captain Brem.
Dayton Daily News reporter, Chris Stewart, has been covering the heroin epidemic for three years.
"They (criminals) can order it right online and have it delivered to a vacant house like these here in this neighborhood," said Stewart. The drug can be shipped through the U.S. Postal Service without any of what's known as "advanced electronic data" -- things like: where the package is coming from, what's inside and who's shipping it. "That makes it easier for them to get Fentanyl through the system and to a house in Dayton," Stewart said.
Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman has introduced new legislation to try and change that.
"It comes in through the U.S. mail system, unbelievably, so we're trying to push back and make sure the post office requires that some of these evil scientists in China who are making this in a laboratory have to put on the package the information about where it's from, what's in it, where it's going and so on," said Portman. "According to Dayton law enforcement, and the customs and border protection people and the DEA, that will help them to identify those packages and keep some of that poison out of our communities."
Bill Brokschmidt is a recovering addict. He said he's lost count of the times he's overdosed. His drug addiction left him homeless.
"I was living in my car, I had no gas," Brokschmidt said. "I couldn't drive it to a gas station."
Sober for 14 months, Brokschmidt now works with the Dayton-based group, Families of Addicts. He is helping people with a struggle he knows first-hand.
Lori Erion runs the organization.
NOW WATCH: WHIO Reports on drugs through the mail
"We give huge doses of hope," Erion said. "So a lot of hope, a lot of education and we do that by our weekly meetings and people who have been there, done that."
FOA's services are in high demand amid the Heroin and Fentanyl epidemics.
"If we can save a couple people, I think that's worth the effort on all of our parts," said Brokschmidt.
"You say you can't win the war on drugs -- but we have to keep fighting the battle," Brem said. "That's the most important thing."