Nine of the arrests were linked to overdose deaths from fentanyl, while eight more were arrested after allegedly selling fentanyl to someone who overdosed, but was saved by narcan. The remaining arrests came through information obtained from confidential informants and community members.
Two of the drug dealers who were arrested have been indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder charges.
"We called the operation, ‘Operation Good Call,’ because when the detectives would get a phone number and they would call up one of these dealers, as soon as they had the dealer agree to a fentanyl transaction, they then said, ‘Ok, we have a good call,'" Sgt. Stephen Marra, the head of OPD's Overdose Investigate Unit, said at a press conference Friday.
Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Drug dealers often cut heroin and other drugs with fentanyl, sometimes unbeknownst to the user, to increase the effects of a drug sold on the black market.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón credited Marra's overdose unit, which was created about two and a half years ago to specifically address the increasing number of overdoses.
"I can’t emphasize how significant this is, considering that like many communities across the country, this is taking lives," Rolón said at a press conference Friday.
Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased rapidly over the past decade, with deaths 12 times higher in 2019 than they were in 2013, according to the CDC.
In Orlando specifically, there were 75 fatal overdoses in 2020, 63 of which were related to fentanyl, according to the Orlando Police Department.
In May, Customs and Border Protection seized 951 pounds of fentanyl at the border, a 300% increase over May 2020.