LORAIN — A Lorain man is facing drug charges after police found him in possession of more than 100 grams of fentanyl Friday, according to Lorain police.
Lorain Police Narcotics Division Sgt. Dennis Camarillo said officers found Aalijah Rico, 24, in the midst of a drug deal at Cooper Foster Park Plaza about 2:30 p.m. Friday with two bags totaling 1 gram of fentanyl. A search of his home on the 2700 block of West 37th Street revealed 118 additional grams of fentanyl, police said.
Camarillo said Rico was charged with aggravated drug trafficking, a first-degree felony, and aggravated possession of drugs, a second-degree felony. Lorain police, with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Elyria police, had begun investigating Rico a week prior.
Lorain police said Rico had $17,000 in cash in his car after a traffic stop Oct. 5 for littering and driving without a license. Due to his past convictions involving drugs and gang activity, Camarillo said officers seized the money pending an investigation. Police said the weeklong investigation revealed Rico was still involved in drug trafficking and found him selling drugs that Friday.
The arrest came two weeks after an increase of opioid drug overdoses this month in Lorain County. Camarillo said it’s too early to tell if Rico’s trafficking is responsible for any of the overdoses. Between Oct. 1 and 11, emergency personnel responding to calls in Lorain, Elyria, Amherst and Oberlin used naloxone in 15 cases, administering a total of 29 doses, according to data from LifeCare Ambulance Services Inc.
Herb de la Porte, LifeCare vice president, said his dispatchers and supervisors in Lorain and Elyria confirmed the uptick.
There were spikes in 2016 naloxone usage — 157 in December 2016 — bringing the total recorded uses to 1,143 for that year. Last year saw a similar trend, with spikes in August (126) and September (131), bringing total doses in 2017 to 1,254.
From January to September of this year, LifeCare has administered 619 doses of naloxone, including patients given multiple doses.
Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans said he suspects the county this year will end up with close to the roughly 135 overdose deaths it saw last year, though it depends on if the upward trend continues.
Rico was sent to the Lorain County Jail with a pending court date. Camarillo said Rico’s case may go to a federal prosecutor as a part of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, or “S.O.S.”
Operation S.O.S. is a new program in specific areas across the country — Lorain County being one of them — that is aimed at reducing the supply of deadly synthetic opioids, finding distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers, according to the United States Attorney’s Office of Northern District of Ohio.