Overdoses Drop Nearly 40 Percent Since Formation of Omaha Task Force


Overdose trends in Omaha have dropped nearly 40 percent since the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Omaha Division Overdose Response Task Force (ODRTF) began making arrests in January 2023. For their efforts, the eight-person team was presented with the Midwest Region High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Overdose Reduction Award.

Since its inception, ODRTF investigations have led to 41 arrests for drug trafficking, including 19 federal charges for distribution resulting in death or serious bodily injury. These investigations resulted in the closure of more than 17 death investigations, several of which occurred years earlier. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska played a pivotal role in the success of the task force.

“We will leverage any tool necessary to spare families from suffering the devastating loss of life to a drug poisoning or overdose,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Steven T. Bell said. “This task force has proven that the combined efforts of state, local and federal partners can make immediate and impactful results in our communities.”

Omaha, like many other cities across the nation, faced a spiraling overdose trend, with Omaha Police Department (OPD) officers getting called to roughly five overdoses a week in the three years leading up to September 2022. Conversations began between DEA and OPD in September to form a task force assigned specifically to overdose investigations. Within weeks, an Omaha Overdose Response Task Force was formed combining investigators from the DEA, OPD, Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO).

“Receiving national recognition from HIDTA is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the Overdose Response Task Force,” OPD Chief Todd Schmaderer said. “The collaborative efforts within the Omaha Metro Area have been crucial in addressing and mitigating the impact of the opioid crisis. This acknowledgment highlights the importance of our ongoing commitment to innovative strategies and partnerships aimed at saving lives and enhancing community safety.”

Since January 2023, the ODRTF has seized approximately 345 fake fentanyl pills and more than 1,000 grams of fentanyl powder. While these seizures may seem small, they combine for nearly 98,000 deadly doses seized in Omaha alone.