Orleans DA says opioid addiction ‘the greatest crisis our country faces’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 August 2022 at 9:37 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone speaks during last week’s County Legislature meeting.

ALBION – Orleans County District Attorney has seen the ravages of the opioid epidemic up close in his role as district attorney.

Many defendants with no previous criminal history have turned lawless with burglaries and robberies in an attempt for cash to buy drugs.

Some of those defendants would die of overdoses.

“Each day there are 600 more addicts at a tremendous cost to our society,” Cardone said last week when he addressed the County Legislature on Opioid Overdose Awareness Day. “It is costing us the lives of our children.”

The most recent statistics from 2020 count six fatal opioid overdoses in Orleans County, 15 in Genesee and seven in Wyoming County.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.

The opioid overdoses increased from 56,064 to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021.

“This is the greatest crisis our country faces, without a doubt,” Cardone said.

Cardone said the country needs to do more to slow all the fentanyl and synthetic opioids coming in from Mexico and China.

“If we had another army or nation killing 100,000 of our people we’d declare war on them,” Cardone said. “We need to wipe out drugs coming into our country.”

The DA said the federal government needs a stronger response. He said he appreciates the efforts of local law enforcement, including the Major Felony Crimes Task Force, in trying to fight the problem.

But Cardone said too many of the drugs flow unabated into the country and find their way to Orleans County.

“These drugs are foisted upon our community,” he said.

To raise public awareness of opioid overdoses, the County Courthouse is being illumined in purple through the end of August.