COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Latest on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plans to help addiction-ravaged cities (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

Democrats are criticizing a plan announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to send 12 federal prosecutors to cities ravaged by opioid addiction.

Sessions said in a speech Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, that the prosecutors will focus exclusively on investigating health care fraud and opioid scams that are fueling the nation’s drug abuse epidemic.

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Mandy McClure says evidence shows more treatment and public health options are needed.

McClure also says budget proposals by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans would make the epidemic worse by proposed cuts in Medicaid spending.

Sessions said Wednesday that treatment alone is not enough.


12:20 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department will dispatch 12 federal prosecutors to cities ravaged by addiction.

The prosecutors will focus exclusively on investigating health care fraud and opioid scams that are fueling the nation’s drug abuse epidemic.

Sessions unveiled the pilot program during a Wednesday speech in hard-hit Ohio, where eight people a day die of accidental overdoses.

Sessions is calling the group of prosecutors the “opioid fraud and abuse detection unit.”

The attorney general says prosecutors will rely on data in the efforts to root out pill mills and find health care providers who illegally prescribe or distribute narcotics.

More than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015 — a record — and experts believe the numbers have continued to rise.


12:10 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to discuss the impact of the country’s opioid epidemic during a speech in hard-hit Ohio, where about eight people a day are dying of accidental overdoses.

Sessions is scheduled to address law enforcement officers and families affected by the crisis Wednesday in Columbus.

More than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015 and experts believe the numbers have continued to rise.

Officials in Ohio say 3,050 people in the state died of overdoses in 2015.

In May, Sessions told federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against most drug suspects.

The change undoes Obama administration policies aimed at easing prison overcrowding and showing leniency for lower-level drug offenders.