Windsor and Essex County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest of anyone dealing fentanyl.
The organization's board of directors settled on the special cash incentive after meetings with their community partners. The rewards sends a "very clear message" that the highly addictive drug is a problem in the community, said police coordinator for the OPP, Const. Amanda Allen.
"We really want to target the traffickers in this case and try to get some of these serious drugs off the streets," said Allen.
Officials from the area's health unit described the skyrocketing rate of opioid addiction in Windsor-Essex as a "crisis" earlier this month. A report that was based on statistics gathered in 2015 revealed opioid overdose deaths in the region shot up almost 190 per cent over eight years, reaching a level more than double the provincial average.
The health unit started working on an opioid strategy in December, but with more than 40 Windsor-Essex opioid users dying in 2015, some have criticized the response of health officials.
The report didn't specifically consider fentanyl, but Allen said Crime Stoppers chose to target the potentially deadly narcotic because of its potency.
"People are using it without even realizing and people are overdosing with such a small amount without even realizing how dangerous it can be," she said.
Plaque program supports rewards
Crime Stoppers is raising funds for the rewards and other initiatives through a plaque program launched in January.
Individuals or businesses are asked to pay $200 for the next five years to help keep their county safe.
It's a chance for people to play a role on the front line of crime fighting in their community, according to Allen.
"We're hoping the campaign will really draw attention to the fact that business partners can do their part by helping us pay this reward and help us get this dangerous, dangerous drug off our streets," she said.
Anyone with information about someone selling fentanyl can call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 519-258-8477 or go to catchcrooks.com.