Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Recognizes International Overdose Aw

Published on September 01, 2023

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office participated in Morris County Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, 2023, hosted by State Senator Anthony Bucco, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, the Morris County Board of Commissioners, and the Morris County Department of Human Services.

The annual Morris County event marks International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event to raise awareness of overdose and fentanyl poisoning, reduce the stigma, and to memorialize those lost to this epidemic. Speakers included State Senator Anthony Bucco, Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director Christine Myers, Morris County Commissioner Deborah Smith, Sheriff James M. Gannon, recovery partners, members of the community in recovery, and residents sharing the memory of lost loved ones.

Prosecutor Carroll said, “I want to express my Office’s and my personal sincere condolences to all who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses.  And thank you for you fighting with us. I can report that together we are making measurable progress in reducing overdose deaths, but it is a continuing and chronic challenge.”

Morris County experienced 78 fatal overdoses in 2020, 86 in 2021, and 67 in 2022. In 2023 as of August 15, the county experienced 30 fatal overdoses, losing victims ranging in age from 21 through 66.

Prosecutor Carroll called the recent downward trend promising. Law enforcement officers in Morris County are equipped with Narcan, and since 2015, have deployed the life-saving intervention 1,416 times. Of those naloxone deployments, 93 percent resulted in successful reversals, giving 1,310 individuals a second chance at life.

Prosecutor Carroll noted the danger posed by the rise in synthetic drugs, namely fentanyl and xylazine. Fentanyl is significantly cheaper to produce than heroin, as the precursor chemicals can be easily purchased online from China. In 2019, 75 percent of all drug-related deaths statewide involved fentanyl.

Law enforcement is also seeing an increase in the use of xylazine, an animal tranquilizer and respiratory depressant, being used as a cutting agent with opioids. Alarmingly, naloxone cannot reverse the effects of xylazine. In 2022, 36 percent of opioids seized by law enforcement in New Jersey contained xylazine.

Prosecutor Carroll explained distribution enforcement actions, including the work of the Morris County Narcotics Task Force, comprised of the MCPO, MSCO and municipal police departments; and investigative tools such as use of undercover agents and visual and electronic surveillance techniques. He highlighted three recent strict liability homicide prosecutions in Morris County, charged against alleged narcotic distributors in connection with fatal overdoses. Two strict liability cases have resulted in guilty pleas, and the third is pending disposition.

Prosecutor Carroll said, “We want to send a strong message to other dealers that you could face a major prison sentence for homicide with your sale of drugs.

The key to stopping the proliferation of illegal drugs will come from new thinking and innovative methods.  While we are seeing increased success using new technologies in our enforcement efforts and our use of Narcan to save lives, equally important, we remain absolutely committed to supporting our drug treatment and diversion programs.”

The supervised Recovery Court program has had 158 active participants in the last three years, with an 81.3 percent retention rate.



Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll (center), and State Senator Anthony Bucco (right).

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(Podium) Caroline Bailey, Prevention is Key-CARES

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(Podium) Sheriff James Gannon