On Monday afternoon Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez, flanked by numerous masked deputies,  announced the launching of a new task force, the Osceola Narcotics Investigation Bureau, to take on the increasing drug trafficking and abuse in Osceola County, which the sheriff said is on the rise.

Sheriff Marcos Lopez shared at a news conference that over the last 2 years Sheriff Deputies have had to deploy Narcan 197 times in response to drug overdoses – tragically they failed to work 13 times. This of course doesn’t include data from other agencies such as Fire Rescue, St. Cloud and Kissimmee Police, and others.

“The medical examiner reported 324 accident drug overdoses in Osceola County over the last years. Imagine if those numbers were classified as homicides. There would be an outrage, said Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez. “I view criminals killing people with drugs in the same way. Traffickers are bringing drugs into our community and killing residents of Osceola County with those drugs. They’re not using guns or knives but the results are the same. People are dying. This needs to stop and it needs to stop now. I’m here today because the old way of doing business hasn’t been working.”

The Sheriff went on to say he has built a crimefighting force that is better equipped to fight the increase in drug trafficking in Osceola County, and it is called the Osceola Narcotics Investigation Bureau (ONIB). He said the task force is filled with experienced agents that will get the job done and that the director of the task force will be Lt. Fred Hinderman, who has 24 years of sworn law enforcement experience, which includes 6 years of fighting drug trafficking, and 18 years with SWAT.

Those deputies who were previously assigned to the OCIB, which is no longer in existence, will now be part of the ONIB force. The Sheriff said he has already invited former members of the Osceola County Investigative Bureau to join the ONIB.

‘I believe when we all work together we become a better and stronger force,” the sheriff said.

This comes after State Attorney Worrell announced earlier in the day that she has launched a new narcotics unit to target drug trafficking.

Worrell said her office will continue to work with Osceola law enforcement agencies in prosecuting drug cases, even with the Osceola County Investigative Bureau coming to an end.