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Ocala
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

OPD, MCSO chiefs visit border to address ‘ongoing opioid epidemic’ in local area

The heads of the Ocala Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office recently completed a trip to the United States border with Mexico that they indicate was to “gain insights on the current border crisis” and “ongoing opioid epidemic” in Ocala. 

Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken and Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods joined several officials who accompanied Congresswoman Kat Cammack. 

OPD MCSO chiefs visit border to address ‘ongoing opioid epidemic in local area
Kat Cammack (left) and Mike Balken (right) at the U.S./Mexico border

Balken says that investigations show heroin and fentanyl are responsible for the vast majority of the overdose deaths that have occurred in Ocala since 2018. 

“Having a better understanding of how and why this is occurring at such an alarming rate should help us better allocate resources and develop investigative techniques to more effectively disrupt the flow of drugs into our community,” says Balken. 

According to the Ocala Police Department, the agency has responded to 900 overdose incidents since 2018, with around 140 of them ending in death. 

“The issues along the southern border are directly affecting Ocala and OPD’s ability to provide the level of services that citizens are accustomed to,” reads a post from the Ocala Police Department’s Facebook page. “These issues threaten the safety and well-being of our citizens.”