DEA announces three-pronged ‘360 Strategy’ to fight opioid epidemic in Utah

The DEA's 360 Strategy to combat heroin and opioid use is coming to Utah, the first time it has been applied to an entire state since its launch in 2015. | Composite image includes image of pills by wildpixel / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Drug Enforcement Administration, local law enforcement officials and others involved in fighting the illicit use and distribution of opioids are bringing the DEA’s “360 Strategy” to Utah.

“This strategy has been developed to specifically address this vicious, this deadly heroin and opioid epidemic that is burgeoning across the great state of Utah and many other parts of the country,” said Brian Besser, DEA district agent in charge for Utah.

The DEA’s 360 Strategy has been deployed in several pilot cities throughout the country, but the program’s implementation in Utah marks the first time the strategy is applied to an entire state. Roughly 30 Utahns die each month due to heroin or prescription painkiller overdoses.

According to the DEA, the strategy is an “innovative, three-pronged approach to combating heroin/opiod use.” It includes coordinated law enforcement actions against drug trafficking, enforcement actions against pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies and practitioners operating outside of the law and community outreach efforts.

“After months of effort, I’m thrilled that the DEA has accepted my recommendation to launch the DEA 360 Program in Utah,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. “The gravity of the opioid epidemic in Utah cannot be overstated.

“The goal of DEA 360 is simple: Stop the deadly cycle of heroin and opioid pill abuse by eliminating drug trafficking organizations, partnering with the medical community to raise awareness, and strengthening local organizations to build drug-free communities. I believe it will be an incredibly effective strategy in our fight against this devastating opioid epidemic.”

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