ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new task force is taking aim to shut down drugs houses in southeastern Ohio.

The Southeastern STRIKE (Suppression Through Rural, Interstate, Knowledgeable Enforcement) brings together more than a dozen law enforcement agencies across Washington, Noble, Morgan, Monroe and Athens counties.

“The focus is on shutting down drug houses,” Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said. “Eighty-five to ninety percent of all cases lead back to drugs.”

Once a narcotics office gets the complaints, officers from across the counties — including one from Nelsonville Police Department — coordinate their efforts.

The Athens County Commissioners approved the creation of the new investigator position in the sheriff’s office.

“This will be vitally important to reduce the amount of drugs coming into Athens County,” Smith said.

While drugs and addiction are not unique problems to southeastern Ohio, the counties involved in the task force are considered user counties, not producer or market hubs, according to a media release about STRIKE.

Through the creation of the task force, the pooled resources and expertise will allow for greater effectiveness in addressing issues such as opiates and methamphetamine misuse.

“The Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail is full of people who’ve been impacted by drugs,” Commissioner Charlie Adkins said in the release. “The less drugs we have on the streets, hopefully the less people we have to put in jail for it.”

The drug epidemic impacts all areas of communities. Those suffering from addiction often victimize their families and loved ones first through burglary, theft and other crimes to try to fund the habit. Families are left broken by the results and can often feel helpless in those situations, the media release said.

“Our drug supply enters all areas of the county differently, but we are prepared to deal with the supply in our cities, villages, campuses and the unincorporated areas through a team of dedicated professionals,” Smith said.