Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to a crowd of officers at the Columbus Police Academy on Wednesday, saying the country "must create a culture that is hostile to drug abuse."
During his speech, Sessions unveiled a pilot program to investigate health care fraud and drug prescriptions that contribute to the nation's opioid epidemic. The Justice Department will appoint 12 federal prosecutors in cities across the country who will focus on investigating in areas particularly hard hit by the crisis.
The "Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit" will rely on data to root out pill mills and prosecute health care providers who abuse opioid prescriptions.
"If you are a doctor illegally prescribing opioids for profit, or a pharmacist letting these pills walk out the door onto the streets based on prescriptions you know are obtained under false pretenses, we're coming after you," Sessions said.
Sessions said that on average, one person in Columbus dies of a drug overdose every day. Statewide, eight Ohioans die every day from accidental overdoses.
The program also marked the Justice Department's focus on enforcement, rather than drug treatment.
"Treatment alone is not enough. Treatment often comes too late," Sessions said. "By the time many people receive treatment, they, their families and communities have already suffered."
"If you can focus on prevention, then people never get addicted," Sessions said.