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Bergen Prosecutor, Hospital Offer Arrested Addicts Instant Detox

Those arrested came from dozens of towns. Photo Credit: COURTESY: BCPO
Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

HACKENSACK, N.J. – Taking a unique tack against the growing heroin epidemic, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office secured several 5-day detox hospital beds, then conducted a five-day roundup of addicts, authorities announced Thursday.

A dozen of the 40 people arrested took advantage of the detox option at Bergen Regional Medical Center, acting county Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said.

Members of a multi-agency task force hit the streets beginning on Sunday and continuing through Thursday, rounding up street buyers, Grewal said during a news conference in Hackensack attended by, among others, County Sheriff Michael Saudino and County Executive Jim Tedesco.

“There are a lot of people who want help but don't know how to get it,” Saudino said.

The defendants range from 21 to 58 years old and come from various towns throughout Bergen County.

Three were from Pennsylvania and one from Blauvelt in Rockland County, the prosecutor said (see map, above). Several have jobs -- electrician, carpenter, graphic designer, recruiter, among others.

Of the 40 arrests, 15 were made in Elwmood Park and 10 in Fair Lawn, according to arrest information released by Grewal (

The rest were made in Englewood, Hackensack, Lyndhurst, Maywood, Montvale, Paramus, Ridgefield, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Waldwick and Wallington.

Accepting detox didn’t affect the charges, which prosecutors were still bringing against those arrested, he emphasized.

The idea emerged while the prosecutor’s Intelligence Unit and Narcotic Task Force was analyzing data of overdoses and Narcan deployment in the county in 2015, Grewal said.

They found:

  • 288 total reported overdoses, 231 of which were heroin/opioid-related;
  • 87 overdose fatalities, 71 of which were heroin/opioid-related; and 187 NARCAN deployments by law enforcement officers, resulting in 170 lives saved.

In 2015, the hardest-hit municipalities were:

  • Garfield, with 23 overdoses;
  • Lyndhurst, with 20 overdoses;
  • Fort Lee, with 15 overdoses;
  • Lodi, with 15 overdoses; and
  • Cliffside Park, with 14 overdoses.

Similar analysis of available data for 2016 year-to-date, revealed:

  •  202 reported overdoses, 158 of which were heroin/opioid overdoses; and
  • •48 total overdose fatalities, 40 of which are believed heroin/opioid-related.

Assisting in “Operation Helping Hand” were members of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and officers and detectives from Bergenfield, Cliffside Park, Dumont, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Fort Lee, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, New Milford, Saddle River, Tenafly and Upper Saddle River, the prosecutor said.

“In addition, valuable assistance was provided by Bergen County officials, including Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco, III, and Bergen Regional Medical Center,” Grewal said.

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