U.S. Attorney: Send drug addicts to treatment not jail

Posted: 6:09 AM, Sep 24, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-24 06:09:53-04

Across the country more people are dying from drug overdose than car crashes.

"We need to not just prosecute but also to treat those who are suffering from addiction," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles.

Now instead of sending drug addicts behind bars the United State's Attorney's Office wants them to get treatment.

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"We can't prosecute our way out of this problem on the demand side," Miles said. "People will come out of prison often times suffering from addiction. The same addiction."

The addiction that killed Mary DeBoer's 17-year-old son.

"There's turmoil and trauma with your life when you have a son or daughter or a family member who is dealing with addiction," said DeBoer.

Since then DeBoer has become an advocate for rehabilitation and helping addicts.

For years the Drug Enforcement Agency has been working to prevent those deaths by tracking down their suppliers.

But since drug dealers have started mixing the 100 times stronger elephant tranquilizer, carfentanil with heroin, they've increased enforcement.

"It's as bad as anywhere else in the country that's why we have the fear of the carfentanil now because it can be reported to be heroin but be carfentanil," DEA agent Michael Yasenchak said. "It's more money in the pocket of drug dealers."

Carfentanil is the reason for the death of one person in Michigan.

And the DEA says the drug has worked it's way into the state all the way from China.

"It originates in China labs. China sends it to the cartel in Mexico and Mexico they are able to cut it and produce it and then it comes up," Yasenchak said.

With enforcement from the drug enforcement agency and parents like Mary DeBoer becoming advocates, the attorney general's office is hoping it will help soon end the epidemic.