JSO Overdose Unit tackles fentanyl deaths in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has a new way it’s fighting the opioid epidemic. It’s called the Overdose Unit. It starts with the victims who overdose and works backward to catch the dealers and distributors and put them behind bars for murder.

It’s a unit Shanna Tomazinis has seen at work firsthand. The unit investigated the death of her daughter, Chloe. “She wanted to be a veterinarian,” Shanna said, “She had her whole life ahead of her.” In March of last year, Chloe died of a fentanyl overdose a drug her stepdad said wasn’t even part of her vocabulary. “She thought she was gonna get some weed from the guy,” said Fred Tomazinis, “That’s all it was.”


The guy Fred’s referring to is William Stanley Johnson, a convicted sexual predator who came into Chloe’s work and invited her to smoke pot. Instead, police said he tricked her into ingesting fentanyl to take advantage of her.

Shanna said Chloe never stood a chance, “He preyed on her,” she said, “he preyed on her innocence and her being naive.”

Eight months later the courts found Johnson guilty of Chloe’s death. “I call him a monster,” Shanna said, “Because that’s what he is.”

She knows it won’t bring her daughter back, but it does bring her closure. “The detectives got all the answers,” she said, “They didn’t only catch Stanley Johnson, but they also caught the guy that had sold him the fentanyl that took my child’s life.”

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That’s closure she wouldn’t have had just four years ago. The State of Florida only recently allowed dealers to be charged with manslaughter or murder in the case of a fentanyl overdose. And in 2021 JSO created the OD Unit to capitalize on that charging power.

Assistant Chief Edwin Cayenne heads up the Narcotics and Vice Section at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said, “You have these criminals in our community that’s continuing to peddle the drug that they know will kill the citizens of Jacksonville. And that’s why we created this unit was to basically stop those individuals in their tracks.”

Last year in Jacksonville, there were 472 suspected overdose death investigations. As of early May 2023, there have been 146.

Sergeant Kenneth Lentz, who heads up the Overdose Unit said, “We do everything that we can to determine who it is that dealt the narcotic. And at that point, we will arrest them, and we will continue our investigation to climb as high as we can to get this poison off our streets and give us back our community.”

He said detectives have made almost 200 arrests since the unit’s creation, 126 of those from last year alone. “That is 126 less opportunities for people to be able to sell this narcotic and poisoned our community,” Lentz said about the work.

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Investigators treat an overdose like a homicide, looking for evidence to criminally prosecute the people who made that death possible by peddling the drug in the first place.

“They also approach it from the undercover narcotics side,” Cayenne said, “to target the dealers, that poison, and all citizens.”

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