SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Sullivan County authorities are asking for the public’s assistance identifying individuals responsible for the increase in overdose deaths in the county.
During a press conference on Friday morning, the TBI announced that there have been 97 overdoses in Sullivan County reported to the TBI HIDTA Drug Related Death Task Force since March 1.
TBI spokespeople said 22 deaths in Sullivan County are attributed to overdoses.
On average, TBI says that is one overdose death per week.
You can watch News Channel 11’s live stream of the press conference below:
During the press conference, authorities said the reported overdoses are just a portion of the total incidents, since many overdoses are not reported.
Authorities said the majority of the overdoses are a result of the use of heroin, Fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.
The TBI says these drugs are mainly coming from out-of-state dealers from places like North Carolina, Ohio, Detroit, and Atlanta.
“They figure out there’s a hot market here for drugs. They can make twice as much money as they can in their own states,” said TBI Special Agent Chuck Kimbril.
TBI reports that approximately two weeks ago, 10 out-of-state drug dealers were arrested and are facing federal charges.
According to the TBI, agents from the task force executed several search warrants that resulted in several various narcotics and firearms being seized.
However, state and local authorities are asking community members of Sullivan County to be vigilant and report information that could lead to drug dealers being identified.
Those with information can contact the Drug Task Force Hotline at 423-323-8615 or 1-800-TBI-FIND. Callers can remain anonymous.
“Those families that are out there, that are going through this repeated cycle of having to administer Narcan time after time after time. Please make a phone call,” said Gene Perrin, Sullivan County Deputy District Attorney. “Help us to cut off the source of the drugs that’s killing your child, your brother, your sister.”
No specific suspects or persons of interest were identified by officials during the press conference.
TBI officials said the pandemic could be a contributing factor in the rise of local overdoses.