PASQUOTANK Co., N.C. - Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten says drug overdoses are up in his region and says deputies are working to take drug dealers off the streets.
On July 14, they announced that 55 grams of fentanyl and $6,000 were seized during a recent drug bust in the county.
Officials said two brothers were arrested. Ronald Darnell Dashiell, Jr. and Brandon Jamal Dashiell were charged with several drug charges.
Law enforcement officials say they received a tip from citizens that fentanyl was being sold out of a hotel in Elizabeth City.
“I'm extremely ecstatic about getting that fentanyl off the street, and the drug dealers that are actually selling this fentanyl, they got to go,” said Sheriff Wooten.
Sheriff Wooten said Dare County sheriff officials, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Elizabeth City Police all worked together on the case.
He said in the last several weeks, they’ve also had a spike in overdoses and reports, averaging three to four a week.
Sheriff Wooten said many times drug addicts are going into parking lots of shops and overdosing in public areas.
Officials say the fentanyl can be 50-100 times more potent than heroin and said many times the drugs are mixed together to make more profits on the streets.
“There's no science behind it,” said Sheriff Wooten. “The drug dealers are just slapping it together to make their heroin go further.”
He said fentanyl is causing people to fatally overdose because it is so much stronger. Dealers are adding it to their product in hopes of making more money; however, many times the drugs are too strong and kill people.
The sheriff said the department received a grant to add people to their drug unit. They are continuing to fight crime even as the pandemic continues, all while trying to stay safe.
He expressed that he is fearful if his deputies were to be exposed to the virus or need to be quarantined. Wooten said they are taking extra precautions as COVID-19 adds more challenges when they are out in the field.
“We don't want everybody to get sick, and then you got a mess on your hands because we don't have enough people to work the streets,” said Wooten. “We wear a mask - that's the biggest thing. We're very careful what we touch. Hand sanitizer - everybody's got hand sanitizer.”
The department also limits the number of people allowed in the building as well.
According to officials, both suspects were transported to the Albemarle District Jail, and both suspects have bonded out in the recent case.
Opioid overdoses and deaths continue to be a nationwide epidemic, which directly affects the citizens of Pasquotank County, officials say.
According to North Carolina Health and Human Services, there were 1,700 unintentional overdose deaths in 2018 and more than 6,700 emergency room visits related to opioid overdose.