MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) — The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of the Range Task Force and the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force, have progressively decreased opioid usage and deaths in the county over the last 5 years according to data from the sheriff.

“They’re taking dangerous drugs off the street. They’re taking a lot of money off the street. One of our goals is to get the cartel out of Montgomery County [and] they’re doing a very great job at that,” said Sheriff Rob Streck.

Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine and other local legislators were briefed on the progress of these two tasks forces. Montgomery County has struggled with the opioid crisis more than other counties due to its proximity to two major interstates, according to Governor DeWine.

Streck shared that in 2017, Montgomery County was the top county in the state for opioid deaths with 566 deaths due to accidental overdose. Now the county is 14th with 323 accidental overdose deaths in 2020, and more than 220 already in 2021.

“We’re talking about very deadly drugs. What we’re talking about is poison that is coming into our community,” said Streck. “Fentanyl is still mixed with those drugs which is why we’re still losing people. We’re on track to lose 320 of our loved ones in 2021.”

DeWine commented during Thursday’s briefing that trends show the coronavirus pandemic contributed to more opioid drug use and deaths.

“One speculation might be they were alone when they overdosed, and no one was there to get the Narcan [or] no one was there to call 911. People were by themselves more, that’s a theory,” he said.

He also said that data shows a lot of the illegal and illicit drugs found in the county are coming from the U.S.’s southern border.

“We’re seeing the drugs come across our border. We battle them here in Montgomery County, but we also need, frankly, more help- more assistance- more people at the borders,” said DeWine.

According to DeWine, in October, around 100 Ohio National Guardsmen were sent to address the crisis at the border in an effort to help the opioid crisis in the state.

“This is a law enforcement problem, but it’s also a mental health problem and its also an addiction problem,” said DeWine.