The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
According to the 2021 Drug-Related Death Report for Knox and Anderson Counties, produced by the Knox County Regional Forensic Center, the number of overdose deaths in Knox County increased by 29% and by 67% in Anderson County last year.
These percentages are on top of a 41% increase in Knox County in 2020 and a 81% increase in Anderson County the same year.
Among the overdoses recorded, fentanyl and like synthetic opioids were the most common in 2021’s drug-related deaths followed by methamphetamine, diphenhydramine, alcohol and cocaine.
Knox County Regional Forensic Center Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan stated that the new novel synthetic drugs have flooded the market and that they are deadlier than ever.
The simultaneous use of multiple drugs was responsible for 76% of drug-related deaths in Knox and Anderson counties with individuals in the 35 to 40 year old age range having the most casualties.
However, 2021 saw a significant spike in casualties from individuals in the 55 to 64 age range for overdoses.
The report states that anxiety, ant-depressant and antipsychotic medications were found as a part of the drug cocktails that led to the deaths of 30% of the individuals in Knox County and 38% in Anderson.
Officials state that prescription opioid-related deaths are on the decrease in Knox and Anderson counties but warn that other drug-related deaths are still on the rise in 2022.
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In Chattanooga, data from the Police Department shows that drug overdose deaths are increasing with the prevalence of fentanyl abuse. In 2017, total overdose deaths in Chattanooga were 17. By 2021, that number had risen to 108. As of May 2022, there are already 44 deaths recorded for the year.
The record-breaking number of drug overdoses last year of 107,000 nationwide coincided with an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration. Border agents continue to seize large amounts of illegal drugs at the border but it is impossible to know how many illegal immigrants and illicit drugs made it through the border undetected.
The seizure of some substances in the U.S., like fentanyl-laced pills, have skyrocketed. Those pills are a key cause of overdoses since users are often unaware they contain fentanyl or of how much fentanyl they contain.
“There is absolutely a connection between drug trafficking and the surge in illegal immigration at the southern border,” said Preston Huennekens, government relations manager at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Cartels control both drug trafficking and human smuggling at the border – and profit from it enormously. The cartels send massive groups of migrants across the border, who are then apprehended and processed by Border Patrol. While BP is dealing with all of this, the cartels will then send over their drug operations – free from any interference because [border patrol] is too busy processing the migrants who came before.
“There is no question that these phenomena are connected and deeply intertwined,” he added. “The cartels control both drug flows and the flow of people – it’s that simple.”
Meanwhile, the Biden Administration continues its policy of being soft on crime, in this case illegal drug-related crimes. Just last month President Joe Biden commuted the sentences of three drug offenders in Tennessee.
All three of the Tennesseans who received a commuted sentence had been found guilty of drug possession with the intent to sell.
While their crimes didn’t involve the number one killer, Fentanyl, they were charged and jailed for crimes relating to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamines and for the sale of cocaine – drugs also commonly found associated with drug-related deaths in Tennessee.
As the number of drug-related deaths in Tennessee continues to rise, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that 80% of all crimes in Tennessee are related to illicit drugs in some fashion and that the Volunteer State ranks as 2nd in the nation for opioid usage.
Approximately 50% of all children removed from their homes by the Tennessee Department of Human Services were taken because of drug use by parents.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com