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The epidemic of opioid overdoses continues to make news.  The problem hasn't skipped the city of West Palm Beach, where we speak with Police Chief Sarah Mooney for Protecting the Palm Beaches.

"Palm Beach County seems to be almost the pinnacle of where this is happening because if you look at the population that are being affected by it in Palm Beach County, a lot of them are not local."

That's because many of the victims, she says, have been lured here by sober home operators, a good number of whom are committing insurance fraud by telling addicts in colder climates to come and get sober on the beach.  We've verified that, in many cases, these crooks are doing anything but getting their patients sober.  

Meanwhile, the number of overdoses in West Palm is on the rise.

"This year through March, we've had 138 overdoses in the city of West Palm Beach...that's compared to 75 at this time last year.  20 percent of our people that are getting hooked on this stuff, or that are using it, are dying."

There were close to 450 overdoses on things like heroin and fentanyl in all of 2016 and 72 of those were fatal.  So far this year, there have been ten deaths.  

Chief Mooney, who took over the reigns in February, when former Chief Bryan Kummerlin retired, says the county commission and the governor have committed to spending more money to solve this crisis.

This is just Part 1 of a two-part series with Mooney for "Protecting the Palm Beaches."  We'll hear from her next Friday on community outreach and a program offered to first time prostitution offenders to avoid jail time.

Join the West Palm Beach PD, along with the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement for a community event at the police department at 600 Banyan Blvd. May 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. regarding the opioid epidemic.

Photo: Tetra images RF