WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — West Palm Beach Police say fentanyl use is a growing concern in the city, and they say they're using ghost units, or teams of undercover officers, to try to arrest the drug sellers.
"We have a serious problem with fentanyl and heroin in the north end of our city," said Richard Morris, West Palm Beach Police Deputy Chief.
As CBS12 News reported on Tuesday, some residents in the city's north end who live near Broadway Avenue say they're getting quite concerned about shootings.
"These guys across the street, they're absolutely looney-tunes. If I had my say, there would be National Guard over there 24 hours a day walking that street," said Timothy Okey, a West Palm Beach resident who lives near the corner of 55th Street and Broadway Avenue.
Okey says he's worried that someone is going to get hit by a stray bullet.
"You know, they want to shoot each other, knock yourself out. But for crying out loud don't be shootin' down a thoroughfare endangering the public two, three blocks away," Okey said.
'We're kind of caught between a rock and a hard place because of the fact that our addicts are on the streets. They're a criminal element. They've got to support their habits. With that, our crime goes up," Deputy Chief Morris said.
He points to some recent statistics that he feels show that West Palm Beach Police are working hard to try to curb drug trafficking.
Morris says West Palm Beach Police made 331 drug-related felony arrests in 2021 and West Palm Beach Police recovered almost 460 grams of fentanyl in 2021. That's about one pound of fentanyl.
He says an amount of fentanyl about the size of four granules of salt is enough to kill a person.
He says in his opinion, part of the problem is that when drug traffickers are arrested and convicted, they need to be given longer prison sentences.
"We've got the penalties. We've got to enforce the penalties. Those sentencing guidelines have to be followed. Fentanyl is a poison killing a lot of people," Deputy Chief Morris explained.
"Unfortunately what's happening now is because of COVID and other things, the average fentanyl trafficker is doing less than 5 years in prison. Almost 50 percent are doing less than 5 years. That's a big problem," he said.