ST. GEORGE — A section of Staten Island's court will be dedicated just to hearing drug cases in an effort to crackdown on dealers who contribute to the borough's narcotics epidemic.
District Attorney Michael McMahon launched the special courtroom Monday to focus on felony narcotic cases, speeding up the docket.
"This is a life-and-death situation on Staten Island," McMahon said in a statement.
"We need to attack the suppliers peddling this poison in our community and this is one of the ways to do that. By creating a dedicated Narcotics Court, we’re putting the focus on drug dealers to hold them accountable for their crimes."
The court will be presided over by Judge Charles Troia and handle cases where people have been charged with cases involving dealing in the drugs, McMahon said.
About 100 existing cases will immediately be transferred to the Narcotics Court. New cases will be sent to the court for arraignment, the DA said.
The borough already has a Staten Island Treatment Court, part of a citywide Drug Court Initiative that launched in 2002 to give low-level drug offenders treatment options instead of jail time or probation. The new court will be focused solely on suspected dealers.
Staten Island has been in the throes of a prescription drug and heroin epidemic for years. It had the highest overdose rates in the city until 2015, when it was edged out by The Bronx.
So far this year, the DA's office said there were 72 suspected OD deaths and 35 cases where the overdose reversing drug Naloxone was used. It's expected the number of ODs in 2016 will be higher than last year.