Lancaster County has 400% increase in overdose deaths in 2017

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Lancaster County authorities are trying to crack down on drug use after the coroner noticed a 400 percent increase in overdose deaths from 2016 to 2017.

According to the Lancaster County Coroner's Facebook page, there were five overdose deaths in 2016, and in 2017 there were 25, 18 of which were caused by illicit fentanyl.

Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile says his officers have also noticed an increase in drug use this past year, specifically heroin. He hopes that by the end of the first quarter in 2018, all of his officers will be equipped with Narcan.

"At one time we were getting an influx of prescription meds, but now we hardly ever make a case, we still do from time to time, but the majority of it his heroin now," Sheriff Faile said.

Faile says the solicitor's office has been proactive in starting its own Drug Court, to help users get clean rather than going to jail. If the offender is not clean, they will be required to serve the original jail sentence.

While users get treatment, Faile says his officers will be trying to take down the dealers in the community. He says legislation that would amend the manslaughter law to hold dealers accountable for overdose deaths, would help them crack down on drug distribution.

"So someone could be charged with the death, so it's not just selling the drugs," Faile said.

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