The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego filed 53 criminal opioid cases following Attorney General Jeff Sessions' call for a 45-day increase in opioid-related enforcement, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Seven of the cases include the drug fentanyl, and 46 pounds of the synthetic drug were confiscated at the border during the crackdown, the Times of San Diego reported.
The cases included criminal charges against three alleged opioid dealers believed to be responsible for eight overdoses. Three of the overdoses resulted in deaths. A pill-mill operation was also dismantled, and both criminal and civil charges have been brought against three doctors in opioid-related cases.
The Department of Justice also recently announced the creation of the Prescription Interdiction and Litigation task force aimed at bringing federal law enforcement into the fight against the epidemic. The task force will combat potentially negligent or criminal actions by opioid producers.
The highly addictive fentanyl has particularly become a major target of legislation combatting the opioid crisis.
The crisis in the United States has cost more than $1 trillion as a result of lost economic productivity and increased health costs since 2001. Prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl are the primary drugs contributing to the crisis. There have been more than 42,000 overdose deaths since 2016, and for Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.