By Ted Scouten

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade authorities met on Monday with the goal of reducing opioid and heroin addiction.

It was the first gathering of the Opioid Addiction Task Force.

A growing number of people are dying from heroin laced with opioids, like Fentanyl, and the statistics are alarming.

“There was about a 690 percent, almost 700 percent, increase in the number of Fentanyl deaths from 2014 to 2015,” a medical examiner’s office spokesperson said. “That’s a huge number.”

The number of people in South Florida who overdose stands at about 4,800 a year – that’s two every hour.

To combat the growing problem, Miami-Dade put together the Opioid Addiction Task Force.

“This is way beyond what I was experiencing when I was as paramedic back in the 70s,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Gimenez dealt with street drugs for years when he was with the fire department, but he’s never seen anything quite like this.

“We’ve had more opioid deaths in the last year… more opioid deaths than car crashes, more opioids deaths than homicides,” he said.

The task will look for ways to effectively treat those who are addicted, recognizing the problem has hit epidemic proportions.

When it comes to dealers, it’s all about getting tough.

“I think if you’re selling poison and you kill somebody, you need to pay the price,” Gimenez said.

Part of the task force includes law enforcement and the state attorney’s office.

They’ll brainstorm on effective enforcement and punishment to cut down the flow of that dangerous drug combo that’s so cheap and easily available.

“If laws need to be changed at the state to make it tougher on the dealers who selling this stuff and killing people, then we need to do that they need to be held responsible,” Gimenez said.

This was just the first meeting of the opioid awareness task force.

They plan to split up into four different sub committees so they can take a really in-depth look at different aspects of it before meeting again in March.

Ted Scouten