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Opioid epidemic: Federal prosecutor plans to go after all who were “in on it”

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Southern Ohio’s federal prosecutor Ben Glassman says now is not the time to slow the pace of investigations into those responsible for contributing to the opioid epidemic.

U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman

“We don’t want to let the moment pass and let too much time go by so we’re not able to hold responsible maybe not just the people who are on the street or at the pill mill handing out the drugs but everyone who was in on it,” Glassman said Friday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “If someone was in on it but they were two or three steps removed I think it is incumbent on the Department of Justice to hold them responsible too.”

Glassman last week announced federal drug distribution indictments against two former top executives at drug distributor Miami-Luken and two southern West Virginia pharmacists.

Glassman said the Miami-Luken charges were years in the making and it was just a coincidence they came on the same day as the Washington Post posted detailed information on opioid distribution between 2012 and 2016. Glassman said he anticipates his office and the U.S. Attorney offices in West Virginia’s southern and northern districts will use that information and other evidence they’ve been able to gather to further the opioid investigations.

“One of the things we are trying to do is trying to use that data so we can figure out who are the outliers and that’s where we can focus our investigative resources,” Glasman said.

The data shows more than 70 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed during the time period and many of those in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Glassman said some of the distribution was legitimate so the recently released information has to be handled carefully.

“What we want to do is we want to take all of the data and cross-check it against itself and then use that to find where we should be focusing our resources to investigate,” Glassman said. “That’s what we’ve been increasingly doing and that’s one of the things this kind of data enables us to do to make sure we are going after the right targets.”

Glassman said federal prosecutors in this region have two main objectives in the future fight against the epidemic and its impact.

“We have to stop people from dying, that’s job number-1. Then job number-2, which is related, is to make sure that we hold accountable anyone and everyone who is criminally responsible for this kind of devastation,” Glassman said.

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