LOCAL NEWS

New overdose task force in Utah launched, DEA claims it’s a success

Apr 16, 2024, 9:34 PM | Updated: 11:41 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A new task force to get tough on those involved in overdose deaths just launched here in Utah, and the Drug Enforcement Administration said so far, it’s a success.

But one public health advocate who works with addicts gets help and said the task force will result in more overdose deaths, not fewer.

“I know what it feels like to lose somebody and want there to be someone to pay for something to make it better,” Dr. Jen Plumb said. “Some sort of consequence that would make it seem somehow alright that we lost him.”

Back in 1996, Plumb lost her brother, Andy, to addiction.  Stopping addiction is personal for her, and she says this new task force concerns her.

“When we talk about increasing responses in an overdose in kind of a criminalized fashion, that’s the thing I’m most worried about,” Plumb said.

She said the approach to allow law enforcement to hold more people accountable in an overdose death will result in fewer calls for help.

“You’re going to discourage people from calling for that response,” Plumb said.

“It is the deadliest drug that we’ve ever seen in the history of our country,” said Dustin Gillespie with the DEA in Salt Lake City. He said the goal of the Utah Drug Overdose Task Force is to crack down on big-time criminals.

“We’re looking for serious, serious offenders. the worst of the worst,” he said. Gillespie is looking for people like Colin Shapard, the dealer sentenced earlier this month for selling fentanyl to an 18-year-old who almost died.

According to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah, the DEA states that fentanyl has saturated the drug market in Utah. “It is cheaper, more potent, and more widely available than ever before,” the office said.

It said he’s the same dealer who gave two Park City teens drugs in 2016. Those teens died.

“We’re looking for the distributor who shows a callous disregard for the city, is looking to target youth.”

Gillespie said that’s what Shapard is.

He said the task force is meant to establish better training for agencies processing scenes where someone died from a drug overdose.

“There’s a balance between holding people accountable, providing justice for those families, and allowing the public the opportunity to feel like they can come to us because, without an investigation, we can’t provide justice,” Gillespie said.

“Making everything illegal, busting everybody has unintended consequences in the world that i work in,” Plumb said. She said consequences like this mean more addicts will die. “Personally, I can’t sleep at night with that thought.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Quinn McKay, second from the left, was a Marine in World War II in a unit that suffered heavy casua...

Mike Anderson

Utah veterans think of friends while preparing for honor flight

Monday was a special Memorial Day for more than 70 Utah war veterans who are preparing for an honor flight Tuesday.

6 hours ago

Police are searching for shooters who they say fired at another car while fleeing an alleged robber...

Andrew Adams

Police seek suspects after shots fired, crash in Sandy neighborhood

Police on Monday were looking for suspects following shots that were fired and a crash that took place close to a high-density housing development.

6 hours ago

Nine people have been displaced following a house fire Monday evening in Payson. (Payson Fire Depar...

Mark Jones

9 people displaced in Payson house fire, no injuries reported

Nine people have been displaced following a house fire Monday evening in Payson.

7 hours ago

A Memorial Day gathering marked the heartwarming end to what started as an upsetting story in the G...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Restored headstone vandalized at Grantsville Cemetery unveiled on Memorial Day

A Memorial Day gathering marked the heartwarming end to what started as an upsetting story in the Grantsville Cemetery. Months after historic headstones were found broken and destroyed, one extended family came together with reason to celebrate. 

9 hours ago

The exterior of the Wells Ward building in Salt Lake City's Liberty Wells neighborhood on Saturday....

Mark Jones and Shelby Lofton

Neighbors say Wells Ward meetinghouse was left in disrepair for years before fire

A nearly 100-year-old church is set to be demolished after a fire Sunday morning left it in ruins.

9 hours ago

With the unofficial start to the summer here, that means more Utah families will be going out for a...

Brianna Chavez

Officials remind swimmers to be cautious before stepping foot in water this summer

With the unofficial start to the summer here, that means more Utah families will be going out for a swim. But aquatics officials are urging anyone who gets in the pool or open water to be cautious.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

New overdose task force in Utah launched, DEA claims it’s a success