Authorities in New Jersey are ramping up efforts to take down drug operations that are mixing heroin with fentanyl, a potent and deadly opioid.

Last week, officials took down a heroin mill in Hudson County that prosecutors said was tied to more than 80 overdose deaths in the past year.

The recently formed State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force played a key role in investigating and ultimately carrying out the raid that resulted in three arrests and the seizure of more than 30,000 packets of drugs.

The Task Force is funded by a $2.8 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said investigators from the Task Force are teaming up with other law enforcement agencies to go after specific suppliers who mix heroin and fentanyl.

“We work much more effectively when we work together," he said. “We’re able to all bring that together in a task force approach: sit around a table, share information and come up with a plan where we’re not just going after one-offs. We’re going after the choke points.”

State Police Capt. Greg Demeter said that while troopers have always targeted drug traffickers, “we’ve recently been directed to re-double our efforts focusing on opioids, specifically heroin and fentanyl.”

The Task Force has operations in Newark, Paterson, Freehold Borough, Trenton and Camden.

“The cooperation is now more seamless when we have day-to-day people from different departments in the same building, same room as our people, conversation and information will flow much freer," Demeter said.

He noted when you’re talking about going after drug mills, having additional manpower is important.

“There are probably more mills in New Jersey than I can imagine,” he said.

He said the Opioid Enforcement Task Force is putting a premium on analysis to go after the bad guys.

“This has allowed our detectives to fine-tune our approach to who we’re targeting.”

Grewal said while the work of the Task Force is resulting in more arrests and drug seizures, authorities can’t arrest ourselves out of the opioid abuse problem.

“That’s why we continue to pair our enforcement efforts with innovative treatment and prevention strategies," Grewal said. “That includes our Operation Helping Hand program, which is designed to divert low-level drug offenders out of the criminal justice system and into the treatment system, as well as our Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Force, which is targeting corrupt doctors and pill mills.”

“There’s much more work to do to end this crisis but today we’re getting a little bit closer to solving the problem.”

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