KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An update to the suspected overdose death data sets shared by the Office of the District Attorney General of the 6th Judicial District shows another uptick in the last few weeks of opioid-related deaths in the region. Earlier this month, the DA shared how the stats had already surpassed last year’s reported number of suspected opioid-related deaths.
As of Nov. 16, there have been 405 suspected overdose deaths in the region; at this time last year, it was at 383 deaths. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the number of suspected overdose deaths in the county had not surpassed 300.
For the month of November 2021 so far, there have been 23 total suspected overdose deaths.
The DA’s office states the number of suspected drug overdose deaths in Knox County is derived from information shared by the Knox County Regional Forensic Center; so in an effort to identify suspected drug overdose deaths as soon as possible, the data is initially obtained before a person’s death is determined to be an overdose. Once a determination is made by the medical examiner, the data is updated, so the reported number could fluctuate over time.
The Drug Related Death Task Force, which is what the DA’s office works with that comprises several agencies to try to curb what it calls “this increasing problem,” aims to decrease overdoses by holding drug dealers accountable when their drug trafficking leads to overdose deaths.
Earlier this month, Knoxville Police arrested 54 people on drugs and weapons charges; the suspects, with ages ranging from 18 to 63 years old, were arrested between Nov. 1-7 for drug or weapon charges. The arrests are compiled of 19 felonies and 103 misdemeanor charges. From those arrests, seven firearms, 40 grams of heroin, 135 grams of meth, 55 grams of pills and nearly 90 pieces of drug paraphernalia were confiscated due to these arrests.
In October, Knoxville Police reportedly confiscated more than 230 grams of heroin, related to drug arrests.