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Morning Notes

Sunset along Columbia Pike at the Arlington National Cemetery expansion site (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Resident Moving to San Diego — Baseball superstar Juan Soto, who recently moved to Arlington, has been traded by the Nats to the San Diego Padres. He’ll presumably take with him some photos and art that were framed at a Clarendon frame store. [MLB]

Fairfax Barricade EndsUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — A man reportedly barricaded in a condo with a rifle near Lake Barcroft has been taken into custody. The barricade situation prompted a Fairfax County police helicopter to circle over parts of Arlington for hours. [FFXnow, Twitter]

County Getting Part of Opioid Settlement — “It’s not a princely sum, but cash is cash and the Arlington County government is set to receive its share of a new payment based on a legal settlement with a number of opioid distributors… Of the first settlement payout, about $9.94 million will go to the state government’s Opioid Abatement Authority and about $4.07 million will be distributed to localities. Arlington is entitled to 1.378 percent of that latter figure, which works out to $56,034.” [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Quarter Gets Small Tax Break — “Owners of the Ballston Quarter retail-restaurant-and-entertainment complex came away from a recent Board of Equalization hearing with a very partial victory, as that body reduced the property’s assessed valuation but not nearly as much as its owners had sought. On a unanimous vote, Board of Equalization members on July 13 voted to reduce the assessment rate – which is used to calculate the property’s annual tax bill – from $91.1 million as determined by staff to $86.7 million.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. Sens. Celebrate Vets Bill — “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated Senate passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 following obstruction efforts by Senate Republicans last week. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs.” [Sen. Mark Warner]

YHS Grads Makes Youth National Team — “Yorktown High School graduate Lauren Flynn was named to the U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team soccer roster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica from Aug. 10-28.” [Sun Gazette]

Feedback Sought for Eco Plan — “Arlington County would like your input on the draft Forestry and Natural Resources Plan. To assure future generations of Arlingtonians enjoy the benefits of nature, the County must identify what needs are urgent, what are aspirational, and how each can be addressed through both long-term initiatives, incremental change and immediate action.” [Arlington County]

Crash in D.C. Shut Down Chain Bridge — From WTOP’s Dave Dildine: “Chain Bridge closed both ways along with Canal Road and Clara Barton Parkway at the bridge. A crash occurred when traffic signals were malfunctioning. Witnesses say an officer was struck under the malfunctioning signals. These lights fall out of phase frequently.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Another hot and humid day. High of 90 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:13 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

An Arlington doctor’s office was the hub of a “decade-long oxycodone distribution network,” federal prosecutors say.

A Front Royal woman who authorities say was the “ringleader” of the scheme, which prescribed tens of thousands of pills between 2012 and 2022, pleaded guilty Monday. Candie Marie Calix, 40, could face up to 20 years in prison at her scheduled sentencing on September 28.

Two co-conspirators in the opioid prescription ring, both from Front Royal, previously pleaded guilty and are also set to be sentenced in September.

The Arlington physician for whom Calix “nominally worked as an office manager” was not named and it’s unclear whether they will face charges or other disciplinary action. The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Arlington County Police Department reported 92 opioid overdoses in 2021, including 28 that resulted in death.

More from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release, below.

A Front Royal woman pleaded guilty today to being the ringleader of a decade-long oxycodone distribution network, sourcing high-dosage oxycodone pills from a doctor in Arlington.

According to court documents, Candie Marie Calix, 40, nominally worked as an office manager for a physician in Arlington, referred to in court records as Doctor-1. Between 2012 and 2022, Doctor-1 prescribed Calix nearly 40,000 oxycodone 30-mg pills and more than 9,000 oxycodone 15-mg pills. Doctor-1 also prescribed similar quantities of oxycodone 30-mg and 15-mg pills to Calix’s relatives, including her mother, grandparents, great-grandmother, brother, and husband. These quantities were far in excess of therapeutic doses, and Calix personally distributed or directed others to distribute most of the pills that Doctor-1 prescribed to Calix and her family members.

Calix functioned as the gatekeeper to Doctor-1; she recruited individuals she knew from around Front Royal to be “patients” of Doctor-1 and obtain large quantities of oxycodone. These “patients,” in turn, typically kicked back the oxycodone 30-mg pills they were prescribed to Calix to redistribute, and kept the oxycodone 15-mg pills for their own use. Calix recruited at least 12 individuals to be “patients” of Doctor-1.

Calix and her co-conspirators used coded language to refer to the pills they distributed, for example, referring to oxycodone 30-mg pills as “tickets,” “blueberries,” or “muffins.” The co-conspirators typically sold oxycodone 30-mg pills at a cost of $25 per pill, and over the course of the conspiracy, generated at least $5,000 per month in profits.

Two of Calix’s co-conspirators, Kendall Sovereign, 56, and Jessica Talbott, 35, both of Front Royal, also pleaded guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy. Sovereign and Talbott are both scheduled to be sentenced on September 21.

Calix is scheduled to be sentenced on September 28. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh is prosecuting the case.

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Morning Notes

Mattress Store Goes Night Night — From local tweeter @CartChaos22202: “The ⁦⁦Mattress Firm⁩ location along S. 15th Street in Pentagon City has closed… but try not to lose sleep over it.” [Twitter]

Santa Visiting Fairlington Next Week — “It was touch and go for a while, but it appears Santa Claus will be able to take part in an annual Fairlington tradition after all. The Fairlington Citizens Association is working to bring Saint Nick to the community for his annual ride on an Arlington County fire truck. The event is slated to take place on Saturday, Dec. 11.” [Sun Gazette]

Lane Closure for Bridge Maintenance — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Routine deck maintenance work continues on Shirlington Road Bridge through Dec. 11. One travel lane closed at a time, 7am to 7pm including weekends. West sidewalk remains open.” [Twitter]

Opioid Test Strips Are in Demand — “Months after Arlington County’s Department of Human Services started the pilot program to dispense 100 fentanyl-testing strips, the county is renewing its opioid response grant as demand continues to grow. ‘We were out of those test strips within the first couple of weeks. Since then, since the middle of August, we’ve dispensed 604 test strips,’ said Emily Siqveland, who runs the county’s new Opioid Treatment Program.” [WTOP]

Elections Office Ready for Rerun — “Yes, Virginia, there may be a rerun of all 100 House of Delegates races in the new year. Maybe not, but possibly. If so, personnel in the Arlington elections office will be ready, they say. ‘We’ll just have to wait and see how this process plays out,’ said Gretchen Reinemeyer, the county’s director of elections, in a look-back-and-look-forward report to the county’s Electoral Board on Nov. 30.” [Sun Gazette]

Reminder: Arlies Voting — Don’t forget to cast a vote for your favorite bakery, ARLnow commenter, coffee shop or brunch spot. Voting in the Winter 2022 Arlies awards closes on Monday. [ARLnow]

It’s Friday — It’s going to be a bit windy today, with sunny skies, a low of around 40 and a high near 58. Northwest wind 8 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Sunrise at 7:10 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 55 and wind gusts up to 20 mph. Sunday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 51. [Weather.gov]

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Prescription drugs (Photo by Freestocks/Unsplash)

The county will be offering safe disposal of unused prescription drugs later this month as opioid overdoses rise in Arlington.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the Arlington County Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration will offer contactless, drive-thru drug disposal from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at police department headquarters (1425 N. Courthouse Road) and Fire Station No. 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street). It’s part of a nationwide effort by the DEA.

This disposal service is free and anonymous. Officers will remove items from cars as participants drive by, and there will be a separate drop-off area for cyclists and pedestrians.

Police say this is an “opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.”

The event comes amid a historic spike in fatal overdoses. ACPD reports that there have been more overdoses in 2021 than in any year since the county started tracking cases in 2014.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever that members of the public take advantage of this potentially lifesaving program as well as other treatment resources available in Arlington County and through the Department of Human Services,” the release said.

Participants can drop off tablets, capsules, patches and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Vape pens and other kinds of e-cigarettes, with the batteries removed, will also be accepted. The locations will not accept liquids, including intravenous solutions, syringes, other sharps and illegal drugs.

For those unable to attend the event, Arlington County has four permanent drug disposal boxes available at the following locations:

  • Fire Station 2 (4805 Wilson Blvd)
  • Fire Station 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street)
  • Fire Station 9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
  • Arlington County Police Department (1425 N. Courthouse Road)

More than 7,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been safely disposed of since these sites were set up in 2018, according to police.

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Morning Notes

Northam Declares State of Emergency — “Governor Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency to respond to impacts from Tropical Depression Ida, which is expected to cause heavy rains and flooding along the I-81 and I-66 corridors. Localities in the southwest region have already experienced heavy rainfall in recent days, leading to flash floods and complicating storm preparation efforts. In addition to the flood threat, there is also a risk of tornadoes across the Commonwealth.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Jail to Distribute Fentanyl Tests — “Beginning September 1, 2021, Arlington County will begin to distribute fentanyl test strips to individuals being released from incarceration. This new effort is in response to rising overdose numbers.” [Arlington County]

Pike Apartment Building Sold — “Zurich Alternative Asset Management has sold Siena Park, a 188-unit multifamily community in Arlington, Va., for $80.1 million. The property includes 33,602 square feet of retail and 17,373 square feet of office space. Located at 2301 Columbia Pike, Siena Park is just 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.” [Commercial Observer]

Marymount Testing VR Headsets — “Eric Bubar, a Marymount associate professor of physics, has led 3D printing projects and testing for face masks and other polymer-based personal protective equipment. But more recently, the professor… is working with three other science faculty members to develop virtual reality technology for Marymount chemistry students to take lab classes remotely — and, perhaps in the future, for physical therapy patients.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Catholic Org Seeking Help with Refugees — “Following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, diocesan Catholic Charities has issued a plea for resources to support Afghan refugees resettling in Virginia as the Taliban’s rapid resurgence prompted Afghan translators and others who assisted U.S. military forces to flee the country along with their families… Catholic Charities has prioritized finding properties for rent in Fredericksburg, Sterling and Woodbridge, as the agency hopes to place the Afghans near family and friends in the area.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

It’s National Preparedness Month — “It’s a situation everyone has experienced: The media and public safety agencies warn of an impending storm, chance of power outages, and loss of service. But you find yourself scrambling at the last minute for batteries, water, and ideas to keep your family entertained. Disasters don’t plan ahead — even during a pandemic — but you can.” [Arlington County]

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Amid a local surge in opioid-related overdoses, George Mason University announced its Arlington campus will now house a $20-million, 5-year program studying opioid addiction.

GMU is part of a network of a dozen universities and research institutions that have been studying substance abuse across the U.S since 2019 with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Most of the campuses in the NIH’s Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) conduct research, but GMU’s center has a different focus.

This center takes all that research and communicates it to local and state justice systems and community-based treatment providers, according to NIH. It also funds and researches ways to reach local and state corrections departments, sheriff’s departments and correctional healthcare agencies.

Now, the center will be nearer to the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence!, which oversees the opioid research center.

“JCOIN is an exciting research enterprise to address the problems of substance abuse among individuals in the justice systems,” said Faye S. Taxman, who leads both centers. “The new location will help us continue break new ground in building the next generation of workforce scientists and clinicians in a field that is vitally important to society.”

Over the last year, opioid-related overdoses have ticked up in Arlington County. According to an annual report from the Arlington County Police Department, police investigated 74 fatal and non-fatal overdoses in 2020, the same as were reported at the peak of the opioid epidemic in 2017.

That trend appears to be continuing in 2021. Last Tuesday, ACPD sounded the alarm on heroin and fentanyl-laced prescription painkillers after it investigated three overdoses in one day — two of which were fatal. As of last week, first responders have administered nasal Naloxone, also known as Narcan, 31 times to reverse an overdose.

“While the investigation into these incidents revealed no direct evidence that the increases are fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely a factor given the timing, the loss of income and jobs and the isolation of stay-at-home orders,” the ACPD annual report said.

Opioid overdoses in Arlington County (via ACPD)

Arlington County received more than $1 million in state and federal grants in January to help fight the opioid epidemic with more staff and treatment options, as well as more Naloxone kits. Meanwhile, the county is fighting back in the courts, suing pharmacies and businesses that it alleges are key players in the epidemic.

Meanwhile, GMU is working to expand its Arlington footprint, with a new building at 3401 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, where the old Kann’s Department Store used to be.

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After a spike in opioid overdoses this weekend, the Arlington County Police Department is urging residents to take advantage of local substance abuse resources.

On Sunday, ACPD investigated two fatal overdoses and one overdose that left another person in critical condition, according to a news release.

Police said they suspect the overdoses are linked to heroin and prescription painkillers mixed with fentanyl.

“This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation,” the release said. “Due to the severity of these incidents, members of the public who may be affected by addiction or opioid use are urged to take steps to protect themselves and others through available resources in Arlington.”

This year, Arlington first responders have administered nasal Naloxone, also known as Narcan, 31 times to reverse an overdose from prescription painkillers or heroin, according to ACPD.

“Narcan is available over the counter without a prescription,” the release said. “Arlingtonians can request free Narcan and REVIVE (Narcan) training by emailing the Department of Human Services.”

In January, Arlington County received more than $1 million in state and federal grants to help fight the opioid epidemic with more staff and treatment options, as well as more Naloxone kits.

The epidemic continues to ravage Arlington County. After a downturn in 2018 and 2019, last year saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses, according to a new ACPD report. The dozens of reported overdoses in 2020 matched the number (74) reported at the peak of the opioid epidemic in 2017.

Officers investigated 20 fatal overdoses and 54 non-fatal overdoses in 2020, more than any other year since it began actively tracking incidents involving opioids in 2014, the report said.

Opioid overdoses in Arlington County (via ACPD)

Officials previously told ARLnow that the pandemic is likely to blame for much of the resurgence.

“There are a lot of reasons why people have relapses,” said Suzanne Somerville, the bureau chief for Residential and Specialized Clinical Services in DHS. “A lot of it does have to do with employment. A lot of our clients… work in the service industry and a lot of them lost their jobs.”

While the battle against addiction continues within the county, Arlington is suing dozens of businesses it alleges are key players in the epidemic. The suit, which seeks $150 million plus punitive damages of $350,000 per defendant, is currently mired in a squabble over where the case should be tried.

More information on overdoses, from the press release, below.

Signs of an Overdose

If you observe someone experiencing the following overdose symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Vomiting or gurgling
  • Blue lips and/or fingernails
  • Not responsive or sleeping and cannot be woken up
  • Deep gurgling or rattling snore

Overdose Reversal

Arlington County first responders carry Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan®), a safe and effective medication that can reverse an overdose from prescription painkillers or heroin. Narcan is available over the counter without a prescription. Arlingtonians can request free Narcan and REVIVE (Narcan) training by emailing the Department of Human Services.

Key Contact Information

Emergency: 9-1-1
DHS Substance Use Warm Line: 571-302-0327
Report Information on Narcotics Distribution

Programs and Services

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are numerous treatment resources available in Arlington and through the Department of Human Services. Assistance is also available through Operation Safe Station, a designated safe environment where individuals wishing to seek help with their drug use can self-report and receive services, without fear of prosecution and incarceration. Community members are also encouraged to prevent medication misuse or overdose by safely disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medication in one of Arlington’s four permanent drug take-back boxes or by requesting a free deactivation bag.

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As COVID-19 cases surged in Arlington County last year, so did carjackings, assaults, trespassings and opioid overdoses, according to a new annual report from Arlington County Police Department.

Meanwhile, alcohol-related crimes and vehicle crashes saw significant decreases.

Overall, the report paints a mixed picture of a relatively flat crime rate for those against property and society, or “Group A Offenses,” compared to 2019. It also shows a drop in the number of arrests for less serious crimes such as trespassing, loitering and drunkenness, or “Group B Arrests.”

But the report highlights a few key crimes that rose or fell, partially due to the pandemic. It also addresses at length the rash of carjackings — which started ticking up in 2019 and have continued in 2021 — and ACPD’s response.

“Group A Offense Totals” and “Group B Arrests” rose to 7,990 and fell to 956, respectively, from 7,985 and 1,324 the year prior, according to the report.

Crime rates from 2016 to 2020 by “Group A” and “Group B” (via ACPD)

While the Group A total stayed largely flat, “2020 was marked particularly by increases in vehicle-related property crimes including carjacking offenses, motor vehicle thefts, larcenies from auto and tamperings,” newly-appointed Police Chief Andy Penn wrote in the report.

Penn said these car thefts and tamperings are playing out across the D.C. area and nationwide. ACPD investigated 16 carjacking reports in 2020: eight were solved with arrests or with the identified suspect being held in another jurisdiction.

“Arlington detectives worked collaboratively with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to investigate cases, identify suspects and apprehend those responsible,” Penn said.

Most of the carjackings were concentrated in Crystal City and Pentagon City. In response, ACPD poured more resources into these neighborhoods last year and earlier this year, which the department said in March appears to be working.

Crimes against property from 2016 to 2020 (via ACPD)

Thieves tend to target unlocked vehicles in neighborhoods, Toyotas and Hondas (for their parts) in open-air parking lots and those left running unattended or parked with keys inside, according to the report.

Assaults, meanwhile, reached a sustained three-month high from July through September before declining. They were concentrated in populated areas and in transit corridors, the report said.

“This temporal pattern was similar to other offense types this year, likely related to COVID-19 closures,” according to the report. “Domestic assault and battery offenses against a family or household member increased by 38 cases (14.6%) compared to 2019 and were a significant contributor to the increase in simple assaults.”

Although ACPD’s report does not specifically link domestic assault to the pandemic, at least one study does.

Crimes against persons from 2016 to 2020 (via ACPD)

While crimes against people have been increasing since 2018, Arlington’s violent crime rate continues to be less than half the statewide rate, the report said.

Lastly, ACPD investigated 20 fatal overdoses and 54 non-fatal overdoses in 2020 — more than any other year since it began actively tracking incidents involving opioids in 2014, the report said. The total, 74, matched the number reported at the peak of the opioid epidemic in 2017, and involved heroin and prescription painkillers mixed with fentanyl.

“While the investigation into these incidents revealed no direct evidence that the increases are fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely a factor given the timing, the loss of income and jobs and the isolation of stay-at-home orders,” the report said.

Opioid overdoses in Arlington County (via ACPD)

COVID-19 may partially explain the increases in assaults and thefts, but it may also have contributed to a sharp decline by 27% in “Group B” arrests. Leading that drop were drunkenness (42%), driving under the influence (13%) and liquor law violations (68%).

“These declines are likely indicative of COVID-19 business closures and reduced hours of operation, decreased public consumption of alcohol, success of increased enforcement, advocacy and better utilization of taxis, ridesharing and other transportation options in reducing DUI behavior,” the report said. “Alcohol-involved traffic collisions were reduced in 2020 to the lowest levels in recent years.”

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Arlington County has hit a setback in its fight against the opioid epidemic, as a high-stakes legal battle is mired in a squabble over where the case should be tried.

The county is currently suing dozens of businesses, such as CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, McKesson Corporation and Express Scripts. In its lawsuit, the county says these manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies were key players in the opioid problem.

The County Board is seeking “at least” $150 million plus other damages — punitive damages of $350,000 per defendant.

The suit argues that the epidemic has harmed the Arlington community in myriad ways, ranging from more babies exposed to the drugs and increased health care costs to impacts on everything from courts to schools’ treatment centers and employee benefit plans.

“‘Arlington County has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic,’ with increasing rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome and Hepatitis C since 2011,” notes a court document. “Moreover, the rate of overdose deaths in Arlington County has approximately tripled during the period of 1999 to 2016.”

The suit alleges that businesses caused harm by “misrepresenting the dangers of opioids, by failing in their obligations to report suspicious orders of opioid drugs, by working with their related pharmaceutical benefit manager entities to increase the usage of opioids, by flooding the country (and Arlington County)” with addictive drugs and more, lawyers for the county previously said in a court filing.

In court, the county has accused the defendants of gross negligence, unjust enrichment, conspiracy and more, saying prescription drug manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacies have created this epidemic.

Lawyers for the county said the addictive pain medications — sometimes prescribed for everyday conditions such as knee pain, headaches and dental pain — can act as a gateway drug to heroin and more.

As the suit has worked its way through the legal system since 2019, the county and the defendants have tangled over which court should hear the case, with the county pushing for state court, and at least one defendant arguing for federal court as the venue. Earlier this month the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the lower federal court for further proceedings.

In appealing a U.S. district court decision about the venue selection, two defendants, Express Scripts Pharmacy Inc. and ESI Mail Pharmacy Service Inc., have argued they were administering a mail order pharmacy as part of the military’s TRICARE health program, thus making it a federal case, the appeals court said.

Those two affiliated defendants did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The county said pharmacy benefit managers, including Express Scripts and others, are gatekeepers to the vast majority of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. and therefore influence prescription drug utilization, suggesting responsibility for monitoring and guarding against misconduct.

Photo by Joe Gratz/Flickr

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An Arlington man was sentenced yesterday (Feb. 24) to 12 years and 7 months in prison for his participation in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

Cornelius Frazier, 32, would press pills containing fentanyl so that they would resemble prescription pills (like Oxycodone) so that he could distribute for financial gain, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release and court documents.

“As this case demonstrates, fentanyl is not only extremely dangerous because of its potency, but also because it may be hidden in counterfeit prescription pills,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who took over the role on an interim basis last month. “We are grateful to the numerous law enforcement agencies that worked with our Office on this investigation and prevented kilograms of fentanyl from poisoning our communities and harming our loved ones. Their tireless efforts are saving lives.”

A number of local law enforcement agencies were involved, including the Arlington County Police Department, Falls Church Police Department, and Alexandria Police Department, per the release.

On June 1, 2020, a search of Frazier’s vehicle found more than 5,000 pills which tested positive for fentanyl as well as two brick-like packages weighing more than 1.6 kilograms which also tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.

A search of Frazier’s home ended in the seizure of a blender with about a kilogram of a mixture containing fentanyl. Law enforcement seized paraphernalia often associated with prescription drug trafficking including dust collectors with residue, a hydraulic jack, cutting agents, and pill presses containing markings consistent with Oxycodone, according to federal prosecutors.

Also found: nearly $35,000 in cash, a loaded AK-47 with thirty bullets loaded in the magazine, and other guns.

Opioid overdoses remain a huge risk in Arlington County. 2020 saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses locally; there were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than in 2018 and 2019 combined.

Some officials believe that the pandemic holds much of the blame for the resurgence.

Full press release is below.

Read More

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Arlington County has received just over $1 million in grants from both the federal government and the state to help fight the opioid epidemic.

The Department of Justice is providing about $900,000 to the county’s Department of Human Services to assist in improving access to treatment, identifying alternatives to incarnation, and to hire two full time staff to further help those being treated for substance abuse.

Virginia is granting $110,000 that will add a contracted nurse position and help continue to train police and DHS staff on techniques to best help those in need of treatment.

The grants will also help purchase more Narcan (Naloxone) kits.

Suzanne Somerville is with the Department of Human Services and will be overseeing how the grants will be used as the Bureau Chief for Residential and Specialized Clinical Services. She says the grants will allow the department to continue to build out programs that focus on harm reduction and “pre-arrest work.”

“[That’s] partnering with police… and working with folks who are having substance use issues,” Somerville says. “Or when they first bring them into the jail, looking to see if we can divert them and send them to treatment instead of incarceration.” 

She says that a large portion of the grants are going to hiring two full-time staff — a case manager and therapist — but a chunk is also going to help with sober living options.

There are four Oxford houses in Arlington, a self-supported program that houses those in recovery. Somerville says that a portion of the grants will help residents pay for these programs.

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage Arlington County. While 2017 remains the county’s worst year for incidents involving opioids, after a downturn in 2018 and 2019, last year saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses. There were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than 2018 and 2019 combined.

The pandemic is likely to blame for much of the resurgence.

“There are a lot of reasons why people have relapses,” says Somerville. “A lot of it does have to do with employment. A lot of our clients… work in the service industry and a lot of them lost their jobs.”

And 2021 is looking even more tragic and deadly. Somerville says since January 21, there have been six known overdoses in Arlington County, three of which were fatal.

For many, the first step in asking for help is the hardest. So, the county is attempting to lower the barrier for that.

It has established a confidential “warm line” for folks in crisis that is staffed with peers and those in recovery themselves. The number is 571-302-0327.

“They’ve been through this and they understand what it’s like to try to quit and all of the pressure that comes with it,” says Somerville.

Starting in April, all Arlington fire stations will become “safe stations” where residents can simply walk in and those there will initiate the process of getting them help.

There are also a number of upcoming training sessions for Arlington residents to learn how to administer Narcan.

These grants will assist the county in closing gaps in service, says Somerville, and provide quicker, more complete help to residents in need at a particularly hard time for all.

“It’s our job to help you connect to treatment and help you figure out how you can do better,” she said.

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