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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will create a 12-member investigative unit, based in Cleveland, which will focus on prescription drug cases. The unit will include agents from the DEA, FBI, and local law enforcement agencies, The Plain Dealer reports.

“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in Ohio, and we are working with all our law enforcement colleagues and partners in the medical community to address the problem,” said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach. He said that in recent months, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cleveland has prosecuted the largest “pill mill” trafficking case in the nation.

Fatal overdoses of prescription drugs are having a devastating effect in Ohio. In the last decade, fatal overdoses have more than quadrupled and are now more common than car crashes as a cause of accidental death in the state. Last year, Ohio Governor John R. Kasich announced the state would spend $36 million in new funding to fight prescription drug abuse.

The new unit was announced at a conference that included an address by Gil Kerlikowske, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He noted that in Ohio, from 1999 to 2010, prescription drug overdose deaths increased 372 percent. “It’s the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States,” Kerlikowske said. “Our success will come from coordination and collaboration at the federal, state and local levels.”

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