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Feds give Georgia agency grant to investigate fentanyl and opioid-related crimes

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(The Center Square) — A $700,000 grant to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will help the agency investigate fentanyl and opioid-related crimes and help clear its backlog of criminal investigations, a federal lawmaker said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Georgia Democrat, announced the grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program, named for a former U.S. senator from Georgia.

In a statement, Ossoff said the resources will “help Georgia law enforcement analyze substances, effectively investigate opioid and fentanyl related crimes, and bring perpetrators to justice.”

Like states across the country, fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, has wreaked havoc in Georgia.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, opioid-related overdose deaths in Georgia increased by 207% between 2010 and 2020 and 101% between 2019 and 2021. According to the agency’s website, fentanyl, often found in cocaine, heroin and counterfeit pills, was responsible for the increase over the last few years.

An Ossoff spokeswoman did not confirm whether the feds doled out any additional grants in Georgia as part of the Coverdell grant program. A GBI spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the grant.

“Fentanyl is a dangerous and highly toxic drug that has wreaked havoc in far too many communities,” Mike Register, then-director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said in a May news release announcing a 39-year-old Buford man was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for selling fentanyl. “Disrupting the manufacturers and [distributors] of this poison remains a high priority for the GBI’s drug enforcement offices.”

Register subsequently resigned to accept the Cobb County Public Safety director position.

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